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An Attempt at a Fresh Look at the Wesley Ship

AnthonyCordova

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I re-watched Angel a few months ago, and I have to say, I felt embarrassed for Wesley. Here's this woman Fred who he adores and can't stop thinking about and for a long, long time she not only didn't give him the time of day, but she parked him completely and permanently in the friend zone, emergency brake and all. We all know that she comes around to the idea of Wes as a romantic partner eventually, but I kept wanting to tell Wes through the screen on my re-watch to, for the sake of pride and self-respect, forget her. Instead he keeps clinging on to those feelings in a remarkably pathetic way. If I had been in his situation, and she chose my closest friend of all people over me (Gunn), after first having eyes in the beginning for my other friend Angel, and then after that Knox, all the while utterly oblivious to me and my feelings, my self-respect and pride would demand that I forget her and move on as quickly as possible.

There were several points in my re-watch where honestly I could feel myself blushing with embarrassment on Wes' behalf. Who could forget the episode Life of the Party, that most shameful of all exchanges between Fred and Wes about Knox. The final insult, the final shake of salt in the wound, is in Not Fade Away, when Illyria turns to Gunn and tells him "Try not to die. You are not unpleasant to my eyes." Seriously?!? I mean I know this is Illyria and not Fred any longer, but the implication is clearly that some vestige of Fred inside Illyria felt compelled to tell Gunn this, even after that relationship had ended long ago. If I had been Wes and I had heard that, I really think my dying thoughts in this episode would have been ones of the most profound shame, as I bled out like a stuck pig on Cyvus Vail's floor in this most ignominious, undignified, humiliating, dishonorable way. Now I like the character of Fred, and I thought she was a great person, but at the same moment I really mean it when I say that she didn't deserve Wes, that Wes deserved a better muse, one that would have put him first, and one that would have noticed him from the start. This is the main reason why I simply can't understand how people get behind the Fresley ship anymore, and why, to the modest extent to which I participate in shipping discussions, I much prefer Wes and Lilah instead. So anyway, let's discuss the Fresley ship from this point of view.

And also I apologize for anything unclear or confused about this post. I'm tired. But I really didn't want to forget about it either, so here we are.
 
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Taake

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I don’t like Fresley, but this seems to suggest that as soon as he knows they’re not reciprocated Wesley should just turn off his feelings for Fred. Which may be the rational thing to do, but ask Spike, feelings are rarely rational.

I would argue that he does try to forget her, with Lilah to a degree, and he is not really pursuing her in s5 until she shows an interest. So I don’t feel like he clings to her really or is particularly humiliated. She is not responsible for what he feels after all.

I’d rather have skipped them getting together, personally, but it does make for a good death tragedy (even if their connection by then feels a bit rushed).

As for the Illyria comment, Wesley didn’t die for Fred so I’m not sure why he would feel profound shame as he ”bled out like a stuck pig on Cyvus Vail's floor in this most ignominious, undignified, humiliating, dishonorable way”, because Illyria gave Gunn a compliment.

Wes knows Fred and Gunn were together, he knows how it ended (not in hatred), so it would make sense that a part of Fred still cared deeply for Gunn. Why is that a problem? Do you have to act as if your exes never mattered to you at all? Surely that is worse.

And I’m still not sure why his death was dishonorable or humiliating.
 

AnthonyCordova

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@Taake Nice post. The way I feel about the Gunn compliment is that it seems strongly to suggest to me (maybe more so on the meta level, I'll admit) that Wes can't win, that here, even after Fred's death and after being her last relationship, that even in the form of Fred as Illyria she still has her meta-eyes looking in other places (like back at Gunn). To me it struck me as more than a mere simple compliment. It suggests to me things the same way certain vampire relationships in the show suggest Freudian Oedipal relations and reversals. Illyria/Fred's meta-eyes are still looking past him is symbolic of his whole experience of Fred.

As for what came before, I disagree, I don't think he ever let her go, even when he was with Lilah. In the morning maybe I'll come back and give an argument. You are right, as you say, Fred is not responsible for what he feels after all, but doesn't this beg the question? The point of view at stake precisely is Wes', not Fred.

With that I'm off to bed. I'll try to do a better job with some rest.

Okay massive edit done for now
 
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Taake

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As for what came before, I disagree, I don't think he ever let her go, even when he was with Lilah.

To be clear, I'm not saying he was successful in letting her go. Because the heart wants what it wants. But I'm saying that he was trying not to cling to her in a remarkably pathetic way.

You are right, as you say, Fred is not responsible for what he feels after all, but doesn't this beg the question? The point of view at stake precisely is Wes', not Fred.

But then why charge her with "she not only didn't give him the time of day, but she parked him completely and permanently in the friend zone, emergency brake and all", this very much sounds like "look what Fred did to poor Wesley by ignoring his feelings. Women who friendzone guys are the worst, he had feelings for her, she should've acknowledged that!"

It could've been stated as, he clung to her even when she showed no interest in him or awareness of his interest in her; or he clung to her even when she started dating someone else.

Basically, if the point of view is Wesley's, why is Fred assigned a value-charged agency in the argument which paints her in a negative light?

But, again to refer to Dr. Love (aka Spike), love isn't brains. I get the feeling that Wesley is not one to easily form attachments, so when he develops an interest in Fred, it is very ardent and real for him, to an extent it inspires a loyalty undeserved as it is more about the idea of Fred than Fred herself. Now, Wesley does know Fred, so it is not completely an illusion of course, but I think the fervor of his feelings are quite relatable to a lot of people who know what it is like to want someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way. I don't think Wesley would have pined for her forever, once he found someone else, but getting over someone can be tricky business.

Moving on as quickly as possible is probably easier too if you have more options to get out there and meet new people and don't have to keep the forces of darkness and a big part of your life a secret to the majority of people who may be available for dating.
 

AnthonyCordova

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Okay, I can kind of buy it, I can see your perspective. You make some good points there.

But then why charge her with "she not only didn't give him the time of day, but she parked him completely and permanently in the friend zone, emergency brake and all", this very much sounds like "look what Fred did to poor Wesley by ignoring his feelings. Women who friendzone guys are the worst, he had feelings for her, she should've acknowledged that!"

It could've been stated as, he clung to her even when she showed no interest in him or awareness of his interest in her; or he clung to her even when she started dating someone else.

Basically, if the point of view is Wesley's, why is Fred assigned a value-charged agency in the argument which paints her in a negative light?

This part though I think I've been misunderstood. The friend-zone comment might have been a poor choice on my part, or maybe we understand it in different ways. I certainly do not mean "look what Fred did to poor Wesley by ignoring his feelings". Fred has every right to feel and act however she wants. I never meant to deny that in my previous posts. And I don't think to myself "poor Wesley" either. I'm critical of Wes for not having enough self-respect to move on. Or I should say instead that, if I was Wes, I think I would have moved on after getting the idea that it wasn't meant to be, because of self-respect and because I honestly don't think any woman is worth waiting and waiting like that for. But just to make sure I'm understood, "she should have acknowledged that!" is not at all what I meant. For Fred's part, she is under no obligation to acknowledge anything. When I think of "friend-zone" that's not what comes to mind.
 

Priceless

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I am not a Fresley fan at all and I agree pretty much with @Taake, we can't help who we fall for. Wesley could have said something to Fred about his feelings at any time. Even when she was intuiting his feelings, he still didn't say anything straight out. He was so scared of rejection that he dared not just ask her out, and that's on him. I do pity him, but really , he should just have been a little braver. I don't find his behaviour 'humiliating', as I see it all the time in real life. People in general are afraid of rejection so they just don't put themselves out there. Fresley is a warning to us all. If you like someone, just ask them out, don't wait till it's too late.
 

AnthonyCordova

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But, again to refer to Dr. Love (aka Spike), love isn't brains. I get the feeling that Wesley is not one to easily form attachments, so when he develops an interest in Fred, it is very ardent and real for him, to an extent it inspires a loyalty undeserved as it is more about the idea of Fred than Fred herself. Now, Wesley does know Fred, so it is not completely an illusion of course, but I think the fervor of his feelings are quite relatable to a lot of people who know what it is like to want someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way. I don't think Wesley would have pined for her forever, once he found someone else, but getting over someone can be tricky business.

Moving on as quickly as possible is probably easier too if you have more options to get out there and meet new people and don't have to keep the forces of darkness and a big part of your life a secret to the majority of people who may be available for dating.

What's great about discussions like these is that we learn as much or more about ourselves than we do the actual matter itself, oftentimes. I like reading other people's posts for this reason. Case in point this first paragraph. From your perspective, you say Fred is "someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way" for example. From my perspective, from how I interpret what I saw in the show, I would say "someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way" is far too generous. In my eyes, there is no maybe about it. She wasn't interested from the beginning on at all. "Doesn't want you in quite the same way" from my perspective is also putting it too kindly. Fred doesn't want Wes in anything remotely similar to the way Wes wants her. It's not "quite the same way" at all, in my eyes anyway.

This part:
"Moving on as quickly as possible is probably easier too if you have more options to get out there and meet new people and don't have to keep the forces of darkness and a big part of your life a secret to the majority of people who may be available for dating."

I can concede this point. I like how you put it and I can agree with you here.

I confess my first post suffered from more than a little over-statement. I sometimes get carried away with myself. Humiliating and ignominious is laying it on thick. But if I had been Wes, Fresley would never have happened, because I'd have long ago moved on before it could become a reality.
 
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TriBel

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But it suggests to me things the same way certain vampire relationships in the show suggest Freudian Oedipal relations and reversals. This isn't coming out in ideal words sorry.

Wesley? Oedipal? Have you meet his dad? He killed his "dad"...it doesn't really get more Oedipal than that. I've never thought too deeply about Freud in relation to AtS (except for Angel himself) but I think one reason Wesley took the "Father will kill the son" prophecy so seriously was a repressed fear. In saving Conner from Angel he was, in effect, saving himself (taking the child from the "bad" father and handing it to the "good" father). I can see the attraction Illyria holds for both Wes and Angel. Illyria has no gender of its own but it is God-Emperor. If you take both Oedipus and Totem and Taboo (the horde kill the father, feel shame and guilt and elevate him to the level of a God) then Illyria makes sense. I don't think it's coincidence that both Angel and Wesley are "guilty" of patricide and find themselves strangely attracted to Illyria.

Fred puzzles me...partly because she has the most idyllic childhood and nicest parents and partly because she has a very anachronistic name. But...what is it with Fred and the teddy-bear?
Instead he keeps clinging on to those feelings in a remarkably pathetic way.
So...a bit like Fred's teddybear? TBH, I think that teddy is probably the equivalent of Citizen Kane's snow-globe (or Rosebud) - Spoiler Alert.

Is it an indication she's somehow locked in childhood (not because it was traumatic but because it was idyllic (if there's a white picket fence around her family home I'll never watch a Whedon film again)? According to one website "Winifred as a girl's name is of Welsh and Old English origin meaning "holy, blessed reconciliation, or joy and peace". Winifred, a martyred Welsh princess, is traditionally called the patron saint of virgins". From Wiki: "Winifred is a feminine given name from the Anglo-Saxon wine ("friend", "lord", "protector") and friþ ("peace")". Given Gunn's failure to protect his sister, I can see the (displaced) attraction of Fred for Gunn. I can see a similar displaced attraction for Angel. For Wesley, I'm not so sure...it could be peace.

I'm not sure how fandom uses the word "meta" but psychoanalytic theory (which goes way beyond Freud himself) isn't something external to BtVS, it's more or less foundational. As far as I can tell, it's the glue that holds the 'verse together...intrinsic not extrinsic. I've no idea why. It's probably a given with vampires because traditionally they represent the Id and they're driven by the fundamental triebes of Eros/Thanatos but it goes beyond them. If you see traces of Oedipus in Wesley, it's because it's the rule not the exception.

I'm not sure why it's endemic. It could be because both BtVS and AtS are mythic in scope. It could be the impact of Joseph Campbell on American popular culture (I think Campbell was a big influence on George Lucas). From what I've read (which isn't much), Campbell provides the framework for the hero's journey in BtVS. Campbell's indebted to both Freud and Jung. It could be the result of Whedon's interest in film theory (which in Europe is heavily influenced by psychoanalysis, I'm not sure about the US...hmm...he's a graduate of Wesleyan University. Make of that what you will). It could be Whedon working through his own problems (IDK, I tend not to go down biographical roads but if I wanted to I could).

I'm critical of Wes for not having enough self-respect to move on.
I say this with no animosity or irony but you're a stronger person than me.

for the sake of pride and self-respect, forget her.
Hmm...think you're far more of a Cartesian subject than any of the characters in the 'verse. I'm not sure of the extent to which it supports the Cogito.

Forget her? In a series that not only has IWRY but also a memory wipe? With an Ur-text where new memories are introduced and old ones altered? Not to mention A11 where memories are recovered and Kathy puts Liam under a mandate to always remember her? I think "forgetting" is a tad over-ambitious. We can only "forget" if we can remember what we need to forget. The unconscious (part of the ego?) tries to make sure we don't.

Love: I spent years reading about love (it's a job - someone had to do it) and I still have no idea what "it" is. I suspect, in the 'verse, it's un-graspable. Zizek makes a point about love (I'm paraphrasing). When we first fall in love it's exciting but painful (does he/she/it/they love me back?) and we want to fast forward to a point in time when we're pain-free because we know we're loved. At which point we complain it's boring and move on to a new love, not realising that in moving forward we're also going backward, which is, I think, the dynamic of A11 (and why I dislike BtVS12).

It's also the dynamic of the therapeutic journey. Unlike some forms of therapy, psychoanalysis doesn't offer a solution. It merely helps us uncover possible determinants in the past and then says "it's over to you...make an autonomous choice...if you can and if you can overcome the compulsion to repeat".

I think the point I'm making is...don't underestimate the power of friendship...it might be all we have (though not necessarily all we want). Not friendship in a universal sense - not caritas or agape - not brotherhood/sisterhood but a social formation as yet unachievable.

Fred doesn't want Wes in anything remotely similar to the way Wes wants her.
And? Does love have to be balanced in that way...like neoclassical buildings? Does it matter whether there's 10 windows on one side and 12 on the other? All it does is spoil our (quantifiable) idea of perfection. Is The Hyperion* neo-classical? I never get much further than it having "many rooms" (in the same way, "my father's house has many rooms (or mansions).

*HYPERION was the Titan god of heavenly light, one of the sons of Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven) and Gaia (Gaea, Earth), and the father of the lights of heaven--Eos the Dawn, Helios the Sun, and Selene the Moon. ... Hyperion's name means "watcher from above" or "he who goes above" from the greek words hyper and iôn.

Fred...LOL! Insert YOU into Fred and it gives FreUd. That was a poor joke...at the same time, it might not be coincidence people open up to Fred.
 
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Taake

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What's great about discussions like these is that we learn as much or more about ourselves than we do the actual matter itself, oftentimes. I like reading other people's posts for this reason. Case in point this first paragraph. From your perspective, you say Fred is "someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way" for example. From my perspective, from how I interpret what I saw in the show, I would say "someone who maybe doesn't want you in quite the same way" is far too generous. In my eyes, there is no maybe about it. She wasn't interested from the beginning on at all. "Doesn't want you in quite the same way" from my perspective is also putting it too kindly. Fred doesn't want Wes in anything remotely similar to the way Wes wants her. It's not "quite the same way" as you put it.

I suppose I disagree again, but I think they're at such a different playing field too.
Wesley develops an interest in her as a fairly normal man in an established life in LA, with work and friends, and the only thing lacking in life being a solid romantic partner.

Fred at the start is a traumatized young woman being reintroduced to a world she was taken from and where she no longer has a natural place. Everything is lacking in her life. To start, she has a girlish crush on Angel, but arguably this is hero worship rather than genuine romantic attraction. He is the safe point in her very jumbled and chaotic existence. Basically, it takes Fred a while to even get to the point of being ready for a romantic relationship, but arguably, with Gunn, she wasn't really looking for it. It was something that happened naturally and if Wes had been clearer about his feelings, maybe it wouldn't have happened at all.

Because when you say that she doesn't want Wes in anything remotely similar to how he wanted her, it almost makes it sound as if she is indifferent to him romantically, and I don't think that shows. I think she is in a very uncertain and insecure place in life, she ends up forming an attachment to Gunn, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have been different. Imagine if after "Billy" Wesley would have let her in when she comes to his apartment, and talked to her about how he was feeling. I'm not saying he had to, it was a hard thing that happened to him, but he doesn't and he choses to isolate himself. That is how he deals. But it also makes it hard for her to even start to form an emotional attachment to him, if that is what he desires. You can't shut someone out and then expect them to still develop feelings for you because in secret you are nurturing feelings for them.

So I'm sticking to my "not quite the same way", because Fred is shown to care for Wes, and had he been stable and open with his feelings (as Gunn was) it might have ended up being reciprocated. He ended up losing his chance romantically, but he could still have formed a flourshing friendship bond to her, but jealousy and other things (like isolation from the team after the Connor thing) gets in the way of that of course.

Okay, I can kind of buy it, I can see your perspective. You make some good points there.



This part though I think I've been misunderstood. The friend-zone comment might have been a poor choice on my part, or maybe we understand it in different ways. I certainly do not mean "look what Fred did to poor Wesley by ignoring his feelings". Fred has every right to feel and act however she wants. I never meant to deny that in my previous posts. And I don't think to myself "poor Wesley" either. I'm critical of Wes for not having enough self-respect to move on. Or I should say instead that, if I was Wes, I think I would have moved on after getting the idea that it wasn't meant to be, because of self-respect and because I honestly don't think any woman is worth waiting and waiting like that for. But just to make sure I'm understood, "she should have acknowledged that!" is not at all what I meant. For Fred's part, she is under no obligation to acknowledge anything. When I think of "friend-zone" that's not what comes to mind.

From my personal female perspective friendzone may have a different connotation, I'll admit, colored by far too many experiences of "I'm interested in you therefore you have an obligation to have an interest in me". Sorry if that was not how you meant it.
 
AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
Well said! Consider me persuaded. I'd have handled that situation differently had I been in Wesley's shoes is all

RDHWesley

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This is a cool topic. Personally, the only ship I actively support in the Buffyverse is Wes and Fred (for not unbiased reasons), and I actually think that Fred's affection for Wes is far deeper than some people think. I kind of subscribe to the notion that she always saw Wes as a potential partner but these feelings subsided after 'Billy' when he, you know...got infected with a demonic misogyny and almost killed her. After that, she latches onto the nearest person that she knows might respond to her: Gunn. I could go on all day about how Gunn is not right for Fred at all. He never seems to love her for who she is; to me it comes across like he's looking for a second chance to save his sister (we see this in 'First Impressions' and in 'Spin the Bottle', teen Gunn shows no interest in Fred because teen Gunn's sister wasn't dead. Wes, on the other hand still feels something for her, even when he doesn't know who she is.

After Gunn goes too far in trying to protect Fred during 'Supersymmetry', latent feelings fro Wes stir up, to the point where she clearly reciprocates him kissing her in 'Soulless'. Once again, however, her discovery that he slept with Lilah puts a dampener on things again. It's not until Season Five where things finally slot into place (Knox is clearly just a stop-gap rather than a serious relationship). As for why Wes doesn't try and forget her...people in love just don't forget that easily. In the past, I've been known to cling onto my feelings for someone, even if it's probably not the best or healthiest idea. I'm sure pretty much everyone on the planet has, more or less.

So, yeah, that's my weigh-in. As said, this is a really interesting discussion; glad this has come up.
 

TriBel

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Gunn is not right for Fred at all. He never seems to love her for who she is; to me it comes across like he's looking for a second chance to save his sister (we see this in 'First Impressions' and in 'Spin the Bottle', teen Gunn shows no interest in Fred because teen Gunn's sister wasn't dead.
It's strange (or not) how many deaths and rebirths there are in BtVS and AtS. Some undergo real death and are reborn into the real (the Vampires and Buffy). Others die and are forgotten (like the Potentials in Chosen). Others live on in memory (either a "true" memory or a distorted memory idealised or demonised - figuratively speaking - maybe not). Others die and their deaths (and lives) are recorded second hand as "history" (the Slayers and the Watchers' Diaries). Some die and are reborn as mythology or legend (like Anya). Others live on in others. I kinda like this.
 
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Now I like the character of Fred, and I thought she was a great person, but at the same moment I really mean it when I say that she didn't deserve Wes, that Wes deserved a better muse, one that would have put him first, and one that would have noticed him from the start.

I've not read the rest of the posts - and I assume someone else has already pulled this up, but I have to say it: Fred is not Wesley's F*****G muse!

She is a human being in her own right. She is her own person and she is free to feel whatever she feels about whoever is in her life. She owes Wesley nothing. Wesley's feelings for her are not her problem or her responsibility. And he has no right to her love. If he wants a "muse" who will love him back then he needs to find one that loves him - not expect Fred to just give it to him.

You say she doesn't deserve him because Wesley deserves someone who notices him from the start. Flipping that, Wesley doesn't deserve her because she makes it clear that she has no interest in him and he still expects something from her, feels entitled to her love and is self pitying that she dares give it to another man. Like you he sees her as a "muse" and not a human. Well, Fred deserves a man that understands she is her own person and does not exist solely to revolve around him.

And I will point out that when she has barely known him three months, he chases her through the hotel with an axe spouting the most misogynistic filth, trying to kill her - and she forgives him. She comforts him! And yes - he was under Billy's influence - but no one else under Billy's influence started talking about original sin, or women being dirty and dragging men down. The anger came from Billy, the loss of control - but the content of it, that was pure Wesley. That is what is in his head. It's just normally he has a filter to keep it there.

Gunn, on the other hand, tries to fight off the control Billy has over him and the worst he says is generic threats of violence and insults. There is nothing personal there, he displays no actual deep rooted hatred. Whereas Wesley really exposes the inner workings of his mind. And it's not pretty.

If Fred had never got over what Wesley had done, that would be perfectly reasonable. And the fact that she prefers Gunn, feels safer with Gunn, can hardly come as a shock after that.

Though what we see of Wesley in 'Billy' does fit with the way he treats Fred in general. He feels entitled to her, he loves the idea of her, he doesn't see her as a real person - he sees her as an extension of himself. He sees her as his muse.

She's not a F*****G muse.

Fred made a huge mistake in deciding to give Wesley a chance - had she not died, it would never have worked between them because it would have become all too obvious that he held this idealised view of her and felt this ownership of her that would not be compatible with a relationship.

Wesley did not love Fred - he loved an idea in his head that he gave physical form to in the shape of Fred. But his love was never about her, it was always about him. He did not deserve a muse full stop - because women are not muses, they are people. But Fred deserved better than to be seen as and treated as nothing but the inspiration and object of love of a man.

He did not get over his feelings for her, because that's not how feelings work. Especially as his feelings were not grounded in reality. He tells her, as she is dying, that he loved her before he met her ... which of course he didn't because that's not possible. He loved an idea, and he forced that idea onto Fred - pretended she was the manifestation of what he had been looking for all these years. He wasn't going to get over that, or give that dream up, quickly.

And as for Illyria complimenting Gunn before they set off ... she had, earlier that day, offered to take on Fred's form for Wesley. It isn't Gunn she goes too once she has killed all her own, it isn't Gunn she is worrying about.

Illyria catches Wesley before he even lands on the floor - so he is not lying there 'bleeding out like a stuck pig in this most ignominous, undignified, humiliating and dishonourable way'. He is lying there, his hand held by Illyria, talking to her - telling her he is glad she came to him, and then she takes on Fred's form and gives him his perfect last moment. Her grief over Wesley is deep enough that she destroys Vale's head with one punch. Her reaction to Gunn's injuries is a rather dispassionate 'you'll not last ten minutes with that wound'.
The fact that Illyria still carries vestiges of Fred and therefore still cares about Gunn does not humiliate Wesley. She clearly cares about Wesley far more. The idea that she shouldn't still have any feelings for Gunn, or any recollection of what he once meant and that that still means something to her and that this is some betrayal of Wesley can only exist if you hold onto the misogynistic idea that she is somehow a possession of Wesley's. His muse. She's not his f*****G muse.
 
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teen Gunn shows no interest in Fred because teen Gunn's sister wasn't dead. Wes, on the other hand still feels something for her, even when he doesn't know who she is.

I find the idea that teen Gunn not being into teen Fred when teen Wes is as proof that therefore Wes loves her more or that Gunn doesn't really care for Fred a bit ridiculous, and a rather childish interpretation of love.
Who we like as teenagers and who we love as adults are seldom the same people. You're right, Alonna's not dead and that means teen Gunn needs and wants different things to adult Gunn. But that doesn't make what adult Gunn needs and wants any less real. His circumstances change, his feelings change, what he wants change ... that's what life is.
Not only is teen Gunn very different to adult Gunn - but teen Fred is massively different to adult Fred. So the assumption that two people who have been through huge evolutions and found each other afterwards somehow aren't right for each other because the unevolved versions of themselves don't feel any instant connection is preposterous. They had not yet been through the changes that would bond them - people grow and change, that's right and normal. As they change, what they want changes (as I recall this is exactly what Wes said about Angel not being connected to life back in Shanshu) the original thing someone wanted isn't the right or truest thing. It's what was right at the time. Fred and Gunn are right for each other when they meet in the early 2000s. They weren't right for each other in the mid 90s. That's fine. They were, to coin a phrase ... cookie dough.

That Wesley feels something for her instantaneously is not proof of his love. This Fred is nothing like the Fred he loves - she's a stoner conspiracy nut. What it proves is his attraction to her is abiding and ongoing. But that's only physical. If he feels bonded to both teen Fred and adult Fred that just proves he actually isn't bonded to Fred as a person at all - it is only his physical attraction to her. No matter where they are in life, Fred looks like his ideal woman so he turns her into his ideal woman ... but his ideal woman is a figment in his head, it's not actually Fred herself - whether that's Fred as the conspiracy nut, the traumatised Pylea survivor, or the team member; it makes no difference to him where she is in her evolution because he isn't actually interested in her as a person. He's interested in his dream woman.
 
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