Funnier in Latin
of Wide Awake and Dreaming
In the second season, we met a shy, young physicist, who was trying to
survive in a dimension of demons. She was rescued by the Angel
Investigation gang and joined them in L.A. Two years later, we see
Fred a little more grown up, but still personifying those
characteristics that made us fall in love with her. She is beautiful
and smart, and still a little shy, but she is also strong, and loyal,
and doing her part as a member of Angel Investigations.
Winifred Burke can be a difficult character to write convincingly. She
is very multi-dimensional, and often seems to be a personified
contradiction. This is because she is a very emotional character who
is also very intellectual. She is a daydreamer, who is most
comfortable with experiences that can be analyzed and catalogued.
She may seem flighty, but is very detail-oriented. Once she decides
how to best solve a problem, she is dedicated in seeing it through to
its solution. She finds comfort in trying to order the world around
her. She is safe and at ease, if she can reduce experiences and ideas
to facts, figures and theorems. She values the intellectual over the
physical because this is where she has confidence. She is very
observant of those around her, but does not always understand
emotional undercurrents and motivations, because she has no real basis
for these interactions. They are emotional and harder to analyze.
She is unaware of her physical appeal. Part of the conflict with
Cordelia, especially in her early appearances comes from the fact that
she does not believe that she can compete with the beautiful seer who
is already accepted and a part of Angel Investigations. She is partly
intimidated and partly in awe of Cordelia. It isn't until she becomes
more comfortable with herself, that her relationship with Cordelia,
and the other members of Angel Investigations, improves and deepens.
She projects a child-like innocence that belies her real age. We do
not know how old Fred is, but we do know that she was a graduate
student before she spent five years in Pylea. Even allowing for the
fact that she was accepted into college early, worked through her
curriculum quickly, and time may move different in different
dimensions, she is far from the teenager that she sometimes appears to
be. Part of this perception of innocence, is the fact that she can
appear very naive. She may not have a broad knowledge of interpersonal
relationships, mostly because she lacks experience, but she is aware
of the world around her. She is always cataloguing details. The
problem is that she is slightly detached because she approaches things
analytically, rather than subjectively.
At the same time, Fred is very much the romantic. She believes in
flowers and puppies and happily-ever-after. Her initial crush on Angel
was very much of the schoolgirl, fairy tale variety. He was the beast
to her beauty, and there was a fair amount of hero worship involved.
She eventually begins to see him as he really is, and the crush fades,
but her ideas of romance to not change much. She begins a relationship
with Gunn that while is physical and adult on one level, is also that
of a schoolgirl in love. He indulges her with tacos and pancakes,
perfect days, and giddy romance. She has trouble dealing when serious
problems disrupt her fantasy.
Her romantic ideals are based partly on her need for unconditional
support. Home and family are very important to her and probably what
she missed most on Pylea. She craves closeness and companionship. Her
family is loving and supportive. However, they probably didn't know
how to relate to their overly intellectual daughter. They had
blue-collar jobs and were fairly "normal." She cares for them very
much. They just don't understand her.
Her identity is very much influenced by her sense of not belonging.
She is quiet and tries to make herself invisible. Men dominate
theoretic physics, like many of the scientific academic communities.
She was a young girl, impressionable and very smart. She likely went
to college very young, and despite her teenage forays into the stoner
fringe, it isn't likely that she had much of a social life. She is
smarter than most of her peers and not overly concerned about her
appearance. This is intimidating to most teenagers. This sense of
being different was probably isolating, and caused her to rely even
more on her strengths and areas where she could excel: studying,
learning, reading, and other solitary pursuits.
One of the only times we see Fred truly excited are when she can share
her knowledge and shine in the areas that she feels comfortable. Even
then she tends to babble and speak quickly. Perhaps she is afraid that
if she doesn't get it all out, she might not get another chance, or
she will be rebuffed. She also has to sort through all of this
information that she has in her mind, and she tends to do that
verbally. Interrupting her flow can jar her and make her feel
The other we see Fred excitable is when she is truly happy. This can
be an intellectual situation, such as being recognized by her peers
for her theories, or simply a meeting of minds, such as when she was
with Willow, or when she is being shown the labs at Wolfram and Hart.
However, it is usually in a relationship situation. We see a relaxed
happy Fred when she is comfortable with her relationship with Gunn.
Also, her other friendships are going well at this point, and she is
finally feeling a sense of home. She feels relaxed and safe and happy,
and as such, free to be herself.
This is a freedom she was denied for a long time, as she almost lost
her entire identity in Pylea. In writing Fred, unless you are going
very pre-Angel, you have to take a close look at her time in Pylea,
and decide how you are going to let that affect her motivations. While
she has come a long way since then, there will always be a part of her
who is that scared young girl, writing on the wall to keep her
thoughts straight. She was tortured, treated as a slave, and the only
refuge that she had was in her own mind, and the one she managed to
create for herself. She tries to recreate this refuge in her room at
the Hyperion. It is months before they convince her to venture out and
She is vulnerable and sensitive, but is very dedicated and determined
with the things and people that she cares about. She has a sense of
humor -though it is cerebral and slightly warped, but she is not
likely to laugh off important issues. She can become extremely
frustrated when people don't take her seriously, or don't lend things
the weight that she thinks that they deserve. This vulnerability
frightens her, because she craves stability. So much of her life has
been uncertain. She doesn't care for change, or anything that
challenges her ideals.
Due to this vulnerability and her emotional immaturity, those around
her can easily influence her. While she is strong and sticks to her
ideals, she is not used to people paying close attention to her. She
tends to fall hard for this type of attention, and then feel even more
betrayed when it turns out not to be genuine.
This is the one situation that tends to bring out the darker side of
Fred. This betrayal challenges her sense of self worth, her desire to
believe that people are mostly good, and makes her feel stupid for
trusting her betrayer. Both of the times that we have seen Fred truly
violent come out of this type of situation. She attacks Connor when
she finds out that he is the reason that Angel is missing, and he has
been lying to them all summer. She attacks her professor when she
learns that he is the reason that she spent five years in the hell of
Pylea. When she is truly threatened, Fred will strike back with any
weapon available to her, especially in a situation when her emotions
manage to override her intellect.
She may appear helpless at times, but she is actually quite a strong
character. She survived for five years, as a refugee on Pylea, with
only her wits and her will to guide her. She has a keen sense of
self-preservation. This may cause her to hide in dark corners, but it
is the same instinct that allows her to fight back to protect herself
and those that she cares about.
Just keep in mind that Fred is a very complex character, who is often
in conflict with herself. She is innocent in some ways, but not
totally naive. She is very intelligent, but is very vulnerable
emotionally. She isn't likely to question her own motivations, or
those of anyone else. She isn't a weak, simpering female, even if she
does need to be rescued occasionally. She's just a girl, trying to
make her way in a world of super heroes and things that go bump in the
night, and occasionally helping to kick a little ass.