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AngelAngel 4x18 Shiny Happy People - Review
Thursday 10 April 2003, by Webmaster
"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
Hide your children! Board your windows! Bring the pets in from outside! The big bad of the season has made her debut, and in her wake comes a devastating wave of . . . peace, love and understanding?
It’s an interesting concept, no doubt. Instead of destroying the world after a giant, final battle of demon versus man, the big, evil lady is going to subvert the human population by turning everyone into handholding, obedient worshipers. Yeah, it’s interesting, but let’s face it: the giant, final battle would be a lot more exciting.
Perhaps we’ll still get a battle. For now, however, we have a Power That Was whose teachings of love, acceptance and mercy have turned the Fang Gang into nothing more than obedient lap dogs. There’s a parallel that can drawn here to those who blindly following religious leaders or politicians that shows us how it’s never a good idea to check your brain at the door, no matter what beliefs you hold. However, that analogy only goes so far, as Jasmine’s followers act more like brainwashed cult members than just ignorant sheep. Their choice to believe or not to believe was taken away the moment they laid eyes on her.
Except for a few. Some might call them "called." Others might just call them crazy.
Crazy people - there’s just something about them. They’ve got this unique way of looking at the world. It’s this different outlook that helps them to see things other people cannot. If you recall, those with a mental illness where the only ones who could see Dawn as the key. Now, they might just be the only ones who can see Jasmine for the rotting pile of flesh that she is.
No on can deny that Fred, after spending so much time in a demon dimension, is at least a little bit crazy. When that craziness came a-calling after obsessively trying to get the blood out of Jasmine’s shirt, she was able to see the truth behind the beauty.
If it really is the truth. How do we know that the decaying corpse-headed creature is the real Jasmine? Well, beyond the fact that everyone started acting against his or her nature when she appeared (Angel wearing bright clothes, Connor getting along with his dad, jaded Wesley dropping to his knees), we know all about what she did when she was controlling Cordelia. The woman who is now all about ending suffering previously blotted out the Sun, unleashed two killer demons, slaughtered a few people of her own and used a virgin sacrifice to be born. Before, she was trying to convince Connor that there is no such thing as evil. Now she’s telling him that they’re going to be the ones to rid the world of it.
Yeah, those sound more like the actions of a decaying corpse-headed creature than a peace-bringing harbinger of good. If what she and Skip revealed is true, then she’s an ancient evil who hitched a ride to Earth from a higher dimension in Cordelia’s body. Now that she’s manipulated the perfect supernatural birth, she’s using that new body as the ultimate propaganda tool as she goes around denouncing fear and hate and promoting obedience and bisexuality.
But what is her ultimate goal? What does she hope to accomplish by eradicating the evil she so recently gladly participated in? Was she so covetous of human experience that she not only wants some of her own, but wants to rule over everyone else’s?
Only time will tell. Until then, Fred is on the run from her best friends with nowhere to go. She could call Willow again, but I’m guessing she already used up all of her crossover quarters. She could try to find others who believe they were "called," but what good will it do to trade one religious frenzy for another? No, her only real option is to find a way to force the others to see the truth.
The trouble is, when it comes to fanatics, that’s so much easier said than done.
Bat Gang Bites
While this outing was kind of anti-climactic after last week’s action-packed episode, it did set up the foundation for the next (and most likely final) story line of the season. Such setups are a necessary evil when a show doesn’t follow the one episode = one story format. Gina Torres was the perfect choice to play the lovingly sinister Jasmine, as she has the ability to be warm and matronly, yet still kind of sexy at the same time. Since she does such a terrific job of not showing any kind of deception or malice, you almost start believing that Jasmine really might be a good guy. The possibility that Fred might still suffer from crazy tendencies lends credibility to her past struggles. It is highly unlikely she would be completely cured after spending months scribbling on the walls of her hotel room. It’s also refreshing to see a character on television with a mental illness that isn’t portrayed as a "send me to the padded cell" loony. Angel called Jasmine insane, deluded, demented and self-important before he got to know her. We know the self-important part is still true, but will she ever let the other traits shine through? Angel went through "the trials" so Darla could have a second chance at life. After he passed, the valet told Angel that Darla was already living her second chance. This was while she was still human. How did the trials allow her and Angel to have a baby after she became a vampire? Until next week, stay away from anyone promising that he or she can give you salvation or enlightenment if only you’ll blindly follow his/her commands, become one of his/her many spouses and promise to drink the kool-aid.
Next Bat Time . . .
Fred races to find a way to break the spell before she can be killed. It looks like Angel might see the light, but don’t even get me started on him making out with Fred! What was that about a torrid supernatural soap opera?
From Entertainment Geekly.com...
Angel, "Shiny, Happy People"Captain Jasmine and the Jasmiteers!
By Anthony KarczApril 10, 2003 There’s a whole lot of slo-mo action goin’ on this week as Angel and his brainwashed posse kill vamps, bury machetes in demon’s heads, and dive in front of a rotting, decaying elder god (who names herself after pretty flowers) to save her life.
Oh yeah, and Fred is on the outside looking in (looking in). Again.
I know that Fred has been on the receiving end of many a pity party from yours truly, but this week she really deserves it. She starts out with the worshipping, just like everyone else, gets obsessed with getting blood out of OLOTCTSTWNBN’s (who we’re apparently calling Jasmine, bleh) shirt, and apparently washed that wash right out of her brain. Which begs the question, will scrubbing and club soda work for everyone? Was John S. busy trying to get the blood out of his shirt before Jasmine (the Goddess formerly known as OLOTCTSTWNBN) came onto the scene and made him look like the Toxic Avenger?
As far as Big Bads go, I have to say that J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN intrigues me. Especially the deeper implications of her nature. If she is an ancient being, predating mankind, has she influenced other religions? Were the Crusades her idea? Seems to be what she’s priming Angel and his Merry Band for. While her intentions are, on the surface, honorable, I’m curious to see where she’s going with this. Sure, they’re wiping out demons, but is it to clean up the neighborhood and help people out or just get rid of the competition? Was The First one of these beings that J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN, looking so much like Ms. Cleo, I nearly picked up the phone to call now, was preaching about at the end of the show? Is she trying to weaken the First’s troops in order to take him on?
I did have a problem with the "Ugly Evil Thing Makes Itself Look Beautiful and Only Hero Can See Its True Nature" bit. While it might not be the most common plot device, it’s one that I’ve seen implemented elsewhere and I was really hoping that I was going to be surprised. I can count on one hand the times that I’ve successfully guessed a Whedonian plot twist - he knows his audience, he knows that we’ve seen it all, and can usually play on our expectations without giving away the farm. Granted, it’s done beautifully here (except for the "revelation" of J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN’s name - could they have hinted at it 10 or 15 times more?). Jasmine’s ability to hold nearly everyone in thrall and make them practically tear themselves apart to keep her safe and do her bidding is impressive. What’s more impressive is that, for the most part (more on that in a second), everyone seems like themselves. Sure, they’re worshipping an ancient evil, a none too common occurrence for the Angel Inc. crew, but Gunn, Wes, and Lorne don’t act much different from their normal selves. It’s only poor, poor Fred who’s mind gets burnt out by the mojo - which, don’t you think J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN should have picked up on? Oh well - that really goes off the deep end, taking her personality to the extreme. The capper, though, is her absolutely grotesque true form - I found myself quite thankful that we only got two quick shots of it.
It’s a huge relief that the "proud" mama is in a coma, sparing us from further Cordy/Connor interactions. Of course now I’m finding the Boy Wonder to be actually tolerable. It’s interesting that, with his inner conflict resolved, he’s a much more likeable character and more like Angel than I expected. The mantle of annoyance does pass to dear old dad, however. Angel is at his flagellant best, whining over every decision and doubting his every move. His explanation is wonderful, that he’s afraid that too much happiness will bring out Angelus, but his resultant attitude is less than appetizing. I’m guessing that J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN is working her mojo the most on him, as he’s the only one in the crew that seemed really unlike himself - though I did love the "We’re going to find her. So that we can worship her" line, said in his best Pa Cleaver voice.
Silly Speculation Warning! Skip to the next paragraph if you’re allergic to ridiculous fanboy musings! A quick aside.with Gina Torres tearing it up in LA and Nathan Fillion acting as the First’s emissary over on Buffy, wouldn’t it be cool if these elder beings that Jasmine is talking about are actually the crew of FireFly? Think about it, maybe FireFly takes place our past and our planet isn’t the Earth, but a planet that was like Earth, discovered and colonized by the Serenity and her crew. Chew on that for a while. Or don’t. In my mind, I know it to be true.
The beauty of this episode is that it truly is just that, an episode. While Fred’s discovery of Jasmine’s true nature and subsequent assassination attempt is climactic, it really just offers us another piece of the puzzle. Some may criticize it for being slow; but we’re building for the final arc this season, and I’m all for us taking our time and letting things fall into place.
Next Week: "Mandy" returns! J:TGFKAOLOTCTSTWNBN brainwashes! Angel and Fred smooch...hmmm, that can’t be good.
Witty Observation of the Week: "It’s too diva, isn’t it? Between diva and deity, there’s a thin line..." - Lorne
From Tildanet.com :
4.18 - "Shiny Happy People"
a review by Windom Earle
Yes, I was absent last week. And no, I don’t have a note from my mother. And yes, my absence in review form was due to my incompetence and the fact that I taped CSI right over my tape of the stupid midnight airing of Angel. You see, in our market, the WB’s host WGN felt some sporting event was more important than Angel. Some SPORTING event. That’s all blah blah blah though. I did get to see episode 4.17, just yesterday in fact, but my copy wasn’t exactly what one would term "good" and since I was then confronted with a brand spanking new episode, I don’t think I truly gave it the mulling it deserved. Here’s my encapsulate review of 4.17, though. Dark and fun, though Connor’s gotten worse, I thought he was figuring out that something was wrong, and now he’s gone and crossed a line, hasn’t he. Some very nice continuity massaging that makes you wonder where they’re going with all that. Good ep, though not as good as the two that proceeded it.
And then there’s Shiny Happy People, which is either an insanely catchy REM song, a sly reference to Joss the god’s fallen show Firefly on which shiny meant cool, or the title of tonight’s episode. We live in a world fellows where all three of these can be and are likely true. So, picking up where we left off, then, Zoe (well she WAS Zoe) comes out of Cordy’s belly and Angel and Connor fall to their knees to worship her. She starts talking about beauty and wonderment and Angel says he should be punished for trying to kill her. She takes his sword and vanishes. Back at Hyperion, Wes and Gunn dismember Skip as Fred and Lorne engage in a not quite as funny as the one between Buffy, Giles and Wood the other night confusion debate. Then Angel and Connor come back with Cordy, followed by Zoe. The Fang Gang fall to their knees before her. She talks a beautiful talk and walks a beautiful walk and man, isn’t Gina Torres amazing to look at? Linda Hamilton never looked like that with her buff on. But Gina can make the transition from action star to goddess of light. Welly well. So, anyway. After the break, Zoe tells us of the world that was and proclaims herself one of the great old ones that existed before the demons before man in a great piece of revisionist history that goes on too long. And she talks about how she meant for all this to happen, she picked Connor and Cordy. Basically reiterating the "it was all planned" speech that Skip gave us last week. Then she says they’re going to change the world. So they head on over to a local bowling alley where some vamps are hanging out, whining. They kick the crap out of the gang. Fred and Zoe talk for a while and Zoe gets a good big gash in her arm. Fred blames herself and goes into hysterics. Zoe continues with her benevolence. Then, in a strange bowling alley courtyard (I was in LA and I had no idea what this thing was) Zoe gains a whole mess of new deciples. But finally, someone sees something wrong, and it’s not our gang. A man comes out of the crowd, saying he has to kill it and runs at Zoe with a knife. Angel didn’t have any of that, though and beat the everlovin’ crap out of the guy. Zoe continued doing her Jesus impression. Back at Hyperion, Wes and Gunn take on the important task of trying to think of a name for Zoe while Fred gets REALLY really hyper about not being able to clean the blood out of Zoe’s shirt. Zoe heads out into the garden to talk to Angel who is very concerned about being too happy about her being there, because of his Shiny Happy problem. She assures him that his very problem is going to be irradicated when they destroy evil in all its forms. The fang gang goes out on a vampire/demon killing spree as Fred desperately tries to clean Zoe’s shirt.So, somewhere along the line, they decide to name Zoe Jasmine, and I’ll call her that from now on. And they came back to Hyperion with reports of murders down in LA. Lorne shows Jasmine a room he’s fixed up for her, and she consoles the still brooding and morose (though thankfully not whiney) Connor. Fred enters with a replacement shirt and FINALLY one of our fang gang buddies sees the truth behind the benevolence. To Fred, Jasmine is a terribly rotten corpse without even semblance of a face, maggots squirming. Gooshy, creepy, wonderful stuff! But she can’t tell anyone, so she goes and talks to the man that tried to kill Jasmine. He shows her his face, where Jasmine touched him he’s now mutated. He says they were called to kill her. So, Fred returns to Hyperion where the gang seems to be having a mixer of some sort, a welcome to Earth party for Jasmine. Fred foolishly confides in Wes who, as I predicted, goes right to Gunn, then Lorne, then Angel to tell them. Fred’s through of this and pulls out a crossbow and shoots towards Jasmine, but Angel hurls himself in front of it, actually taking the arrow in the chest. Fred goes on the lam. Jasmine tells the gang that Fred has turned against them, turned evil, and she’s filled with hatred and needs to be brought back in. But they shouldn’t worry, by tomorrow they’ll have eyes everywhere. And sure enough, the next morning, Fred watches in horror from a coffee house as Jasmine goes on Good Mourning America (or something very similar) and gets a whole new crop of worshipers. Joss’ cred.
Okay. Bottom line. The episode was off. The timing was off. The last twenty minutes or so of the ep played like a brilliant throwback to Tales From The Crypt or The Twilight Zone (one wishes that UPN’s revamped Twilight Zone had that kind of impact) but the preceeding forty minutes drag as we wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait for someone to realize that this THING IS NOT A GOOD GUY! Sorry. I just got very frustrated. I don’t think there’s any regular viewer who was fooled into thinking that a wonderful force had come to LA to irradicate the threat of evil. Because it wouldn’t happen. Especially when this thing has been controlling evil Cordy from within. Okay, so since none of us were going down that track, why try to convince us of that. I didn’t buy it. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. At Mutant Enemy, there’s this formula, throw us into a totally bizarre situation (ie Superstar, Once More With Feeling) where we have no idea what’s going on because things are, well, different, and then, at the first Act break, or if they’re feeling particularly confident and ambitious, the second, clue the audience in to the fact that something’s wrong. Then you clue a character. Shiny Happy People did that, they just pressed their luck a bit too far, waiting for the same moment to clue us and a character in, and that moment came way too late. Now, on the plus side, with the exception of Cordy, who spent this episode on the bench (thank God) we were treated to nice (albeit strange) moments with all of our favorite haracters. This has quirky fun written all over it, and for the most part it is quirky fun, but it also feels like this episode was the first half hour of an episode that, for whatever reason, was stretched to two. What else is good? The creepy nature of the effects when they finally rear their ugly heads, Jasmine’s real face is delightfully awful reminding me of a cross between Gary Oldman’s Mason Verger face in Hannibal and Jason when they dig him up in Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives! (That exclamation point wasn’t to indicate the importance or excitement of my sentence, it’s actually part of the title.) The acting was top notch and "Under your spell" Angel is almost as much fun as Angelus. The moment between Fred and Wes towards the end reminded me of many horror movies and that’s a GOOD thing. There’s also a hint of Bodysnatchers thrown in before it’s brought to a simmer. And Connor doesn’t whine AT ALL this week. He’s a simpering toady talking about wonder and beauty, but no whining! (THAT exclamation point was intended for the sentence.) And, as I’ve been mentioning in the past few reviews, I’ve been sick of Cordy’s character as of late, so it’s nice to see her out to lunch for a while.
So, should be interesting. I’ve reinstated my rule about not even watching the previews for next week. I’m COMPLETELY spoiler free. And I encourage you folks to do likewise, as the season end plot twists are looming on the horizon, and think how wonderful they’re likely to be!
From Khom.de :
BtVS-Reviews@khom.de: Angel I’m under your spell 4.18. Shiny Happy People, Airdate: 04/09/03 (WB, 8/9c).
Praise be Jasmine! Thou art the Greatest, the most Gracious and most Beautiful! Gather for praying, people, let the love flow in! Don’t let there be a place for evil in your hearts. Jasmine is the love, and the love is Jasmine. Or at least something like it. An evil goddess making such prominent use of love - cute idea, isn’t it? Though, to be honest, sectarians do it all day. This week, I am especially keen on your feedback. What did you think of this week’s "Shiny Happy People (SHP)?
Was it clear that Jasmine is evil? I think yes. I said it last week and I am not afraid to repeat it. Why? Comes with the "do what I say and don’t ask questions" part. Everybody went in smiling mode and Jasmine did the fairy dance - it was obvious, that there was something wrong with her. Well, all things that happened before were even clearer signs of something evil coming and one simple "birth pain" explanation wasn’t enough to wipe out all doubts, was it?
SHP surely was funny, but the whole "Jasmine could be good" part had a forced smile on it. Is Fred crazy or is she the only one seeing who Jasmine really is? I go for the latter, and I guess, most of you do. Wasn’t that what we expected? Yes, it was. And that means: no surprises, and no surprises means: no exciting show. Though I was disappointed by SHP, the dialogues were hilarious and the actors fun to watch - well, after all, we’re talking about AtS here and even if it wasn’t as good as I had hoped for, it still was above TV average.
There’s one thing I absolutely loved about this one: All Jasmine said, sounded exactly like she was a sitcom mother. I enjoyed seeing this "average sitcom" compared to Angel - with all that "If you both love her, it should bring you closer together, not drive you apart" talk. Yeah, could have been Carl from "Family Matters" who said that. Remember the show where Angel was desouled and he dreamed it could be as easy as getting an enchanted sword and slay the Beast? Pretty much something like "That’s how others would have done it, but we won’t." Or now, when Cordy seemed to become a higher being, but then wasn’t part of the Charmed Ones, but the mother of Evil Jasmine? Somehow I get the feeling, AtS is more focussed on making fun about other shows than to focus on its own story-telling. Yeah, I liked it this week, but I hope, there will be a time, where AtS is just AtS and doesn’t try to show how smart it is.
This week, Jasmine went into detail and once again made it clear that even the big gathering of Angel and Darla was part of the masterplan to give birth to her. It seems as if she was trapped somewhere (can you say "heavenly dimension"?), and that being born was the way to go. The pre-credit part was one of the worst I’ve ever seen on AtS. When Angel said, he has to be punished, it reminded me of Glory’s minions, and I got that icky rehash feeling I try to avoid. The post-credit part was much better, and I really liked to see Fred in action - even when threatening to decapitate Lorne wasn’t very cute (we’ve all seen his head talking to Cordy in season 2).
It isn’t clear yet how Fred could defeat Jasmine, but hurting her doesn’t seem a problem. When the vampire attacked her, she had blood on her arms almost as long as Angel does when he’s wound. Next week’s ep is titled "The Magic Bullet" - let’s all pray, that Fred doesn’t find out, it’s a magic bullet that is needed to break Jasmine’s spell.
Jasmine was boring to watch - I know, most of you didn’t like Glory as much as I did, but I think, it would help Jasmine if she took Glory’s "Being an Evil Goddess And still Being Interesting 101". At least, she knew how not to be boring.
That’s it for now. An "okay" episode of AtS this week. Marvellous actors and funny dialogues slightly outweighed the bad pre-credit part, Angel wanting to be punished, a boring goddess and no surprises. What’s your opinion? Is Jasmine an agent of the FE? Or is it some corporeal incarnation of the FE? Or is it an enemy to the FE? What’s your guess?
Shortcuts: AtS 4.18. Shiny Happy People
What happened? The Child, who at the end was named Jasmine, proved to be able to cast a spell on everybody making them worship her just by looking at her - even the whole gang. Everyone? Not quite so. Some bystander attacked her, because he didn’t see her radiant beauty, but a monster instead - same did Fred later on: a rotted face being eaten by worms. Fred tried to talk to Wesley, now they believe, Fred’s evil and they want to kill her. Fred’s on the run, trying to figure out what to do, while Jasmine is attracting all of LA via TV, and likes Jasmine flowers.
Topics addressed? SHP was a rather slim edition of AtS. Jasmine is rising, Fred’s humanity’s last hope, that’s about all that happened.
Any strange things? Where’s Gwenn? Why did they introduce her when they have as little use for her as they have? She’s such a fascinating character, and I hope, she’ll help Fred fight the goddess. When Willow was there, she seemed to be at good terms with Fred. After all, it was Fred who called her in Sunnydale. It would be strange if Fred didn’t try to contact her now. Where did Angel get his new shirt from? The one with the golden stripes? If you know the store in LA, please drop a line!;-)
Was it good or not? Weeeeeell, it was okay. Three stakes out of five.
What do you hope for? Now it’s Fred’s turn. That’s really something I am looking forward to. Well, and I hope, next week will be a BtVS week, too. You never know with UPN this season.
Feedback (updated frequently)
Jasmine: Carl, always the first to drop a line, says, Jasmine is boring, but not the worst villain on AtS. That’s a title reserved for Evil Cordy. He suggests, however, that Jasmine is closely connected with the FE, but not the corporeal incarnation of it, since there shouldn’t be one, because the FE is the source of all evil and hence not corporeal. If it was, you could defeat it, but you can’t, as the Eye said on BtVS, but you could cut it off from its energy sources - e.g. by closing the hellmouth as I suggested in my review of 7.15. GID.
Connor: Laura writes, it’s a shame that the series is called Angel and Angel isn’t doing much good this season: first, he’s Angelus, now he’s one of Jasmine’s minions. Well, she has a point, but what are you going to call it? Connor - The Easily Deceived? Lorne - The Demon who sung too much? Gunn - The Quest for the Mission? Perhaps, you could name it after Wesley, after all, he did a lot this season.
Who’s going to fight? TreeHugger says, Fred’s aligning with Cordy and Gwenn. Lars writes, Fred will figure out a way to break the spell at least for the gang and they’ll fight together.