I just re-watched Innocence last night and it was pointed out to me that the Judge existed for one all-important reason. As he reaches to burn Angel in front of Spike and Drusilla, he pulls back and says, "This one cannot be burnt...he is clean. There's no humanity left in him." That was how we, the audience, *knew* that Angel was truly gone. Angel was soulless. Angel was evil. That's why the Judge existed - to prove that Angel had gone evil.
So what's the point?
The sadecki demon in Spike: After the Fall exists for an all-important reason and it's groundbreaking. To me, it's heartbreaking. Yes, she exists to control Non's "Girl Power Yay" army, but that's just plot mechanics. That's not important and it's not why she really matters. The real reason we need the sadecki demon is to tell us, the audience, one all-important revelation: Fred is truly gone.
Non says what we the audience believed, "[Illyria's] time-sharing with a human." We thought maybe there was still a piece of Fred inside and that the Hell-A environment was allowing Fred to break free a bit. But no, that's wrong. The sadecki demon shatters that belief the way the Judge broke our hope that Angelus was still Angel - "She wants it! She's trying to force it...But there's nothing left but Illyria." It's all Illyria, all the time. She wants "it", she wants humanity, she wants the Fred-facade to be genuine. But she can't force it. That's not Fred we're seeing, but a confused and fractured Illyria struggling to establish her identity yet shackled by the remnants of the shell she embodies.
"It's scary. I know - " Illyria wearing Fred's face tells us. And I had to stop reading because I felt this tightening in my chest when I realized that was it. That was the end of Fred. Except the true end was from A Hole in the World. And this hope which sprung from the confusion that maybe that *was* Fred inside Illyria, this hope that I wish I didn't have, this hope was shattered. It hurt.
It hurt...so good. That was painful to read and painful to realize and come to grips with. But damn it was good. And dammit Brian Lynch for making me believe maybe that was Fred. I should have known you were playing with us, but my heart wanted her back.
And the hits just keep on coming as Spike's journey ends on a tragic note. In the beginning of this four-issue adventure, he's trying to find his way as a hero. He thinks about Angel and Buffy as examples, he tries to save the humans of this city and protect Illyria. But in the end, he rejects being the hero of Hell-A. His innocents were sucked into unliving husks of their former selves and he couldn't protect them. He killed the villain and freed all the women who were mind-coerced into fighting for Non, but he still wasn't the hero because he slipped. A slip of the tongue and he lost his lieutenant, Jerry. Spike thought he could save the innocents of Hell-A and protect Illyria while aiming her dangerous self against the denizons of hell. It didn't work out that way.
So now we have Spike, the bitter anti-hero. Who can no longer shout out 'I saved the world' because he lost his flock. He burned their remnants to ashes in Non's prison and he buried his hope of being a hero with Jerry. Enter the hedonistic Lord of Beverly Hills with "no sodding attachments". He's here to pick a fight and kill some demons, but don't ask him to care. It hurts too much.
Just wanted to add that I keep reading reviews of this issue and running across the same words - brilliant - amazing - wonderful. The fandom has spoken - A brilliant, amazing and wonderful issue. For any fan who hasn't read this series, do it. Buy it. You're missing out on something amazing by not buying these books.