The absence doesn't hold up. In fact there are tons of intermediate fossils. Good examples are the evolution of birds and humans. Early birds are more or less just dinosaurs with wings (and we now know that many dinosaurs had primitive feathers as well). And when you this way can see a clear path from dinosaurs, to bird-like dinosaurs with feathers, to early dinosaur-like birds to birds, so therefore the bird-like dinosaurs and dinosaur-like birds are in fact a intermediate fossil forms between dinosaurs and birds.
In human evolution we can clearly see that australopithecines, being upright-walking apes, are intermediate between apes and humans, and that early homo in turn is intermediate between australopithecines and homo sapiens.
The argument is then sometimes said that they are not intermediate forms between species. But that argument doesn't hold up because the line between species isn't necessarily sharp. It's an arbitrary grouping we humans do. You can't have an intermediate form between two species, because we will decide which species it belongs to. But nature makes no such differences.
Normally the animals within one species can interbreed, but you no interbreeding can be done between species. But there are species of birds where birds from the eastern part of the population will not mate with birds from the western part of the population. But yet there is never a clean break in between.
And everyone knows Coyotes and Gray Wolves are different species, right? But Gray Wolves can (and sometimes do) mate with red wolves, that can (and sometimes do) mate with Coyotes.
(In fact there is some speculation that the Red Wolf itself is a mix between Gray Wolf and Coyote. I don't know if any conclusion has been drawn on that).
In evolution it is even more self-evident that there is no clean break between species, and one species slowly evolves from another. So if you find an intermediary form, ie something you can't clearly specify as species A or species B, you tend to give it a species of it's own (with a significant expansion of species in Homo during the last decades as a result)
So the grouping of individuals into species are often arbitrary, and as long as we always stick every individual into one species, we won't get intermediary forms between species. But it's clear that different species are intermediary forms of other species, so the evidence is there in the fossil record, with no doubt.