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AngelAngel 4x19 Magic Bullet - Review
Thursday 17 April 2003, by Webmaster
"There wasn’t a second gunman." If we ever needed a clear and unmistakable sign of Jasmine being evil, here it is. There WAS a second one, evil mistress. Did you hear that? No second gunman? Don’t be ridiculous, o sovereign Beauty! Lean back and breathe. There is good news this week: it isn’t getting worse. Yeah, you heard right, TMB is waaaay better than the last two eps. Thrilling storytelling, some little surprises and dialogues to die for. More importantly: Angel’s back!
Jasmine: Getting rid of the spell is pretty much like many readers predicted here on the feeback site of last week’s SHP: you have to mix Jasmine’s blood with yours. The surprise: Cordy’s blood does the hokey-pokey, too. The goddess has to eat - how come we never asked that question before? Well, here’s how she does it: somehow she’s digesting her followers. Thankfully they didn’t show exactly how Jasmine does it, but since the room was all glowy, we can expect it is more of a mystical digesting than a "vampirical" one.
Time turned on another feature of Jasmine: she’s able to develop some kind of link not only between her and her followers, but between followers as well. Sometimes, they know who the others are, where their hopes, their fears and their abilities lay. That’s a hell of a weapon, because at the end, she’s unifiying the people, bringing them closer together - honestly, something good, and it’s amazing to see how they deal with it on the show.
If you lose the ability to see Jasmine as she wants to be seen, losing the ability to get mingled with the crowd, it hurts - it hurts so much you wish you wouldn’t see things as they are. That’s the old message: Life isn’t always fun and it’s never easy. Most of the time it’s fighting, trying to find a way, exhausting to do whatever you have to do and still complying with your ideals, living without losing yourself.
Angel’s back - and not only in the sense of him actually being freed from Jasmine’s influence. After two walks into the valleys of "Mmh, what was that?" storytelling, the series is back - and good.
Jasmine is doing evil things by doing good - we actually didn’t see her do many evil things, just a bit of chasing Fred and a tinier bit of chasing Angel. That’s a nice twist and the magical button to turn her off, is something you can’t so easily spread about tens of thousands of followers - except you organize some kind of mass blood injection. It’ll be thrilling to see how they figure a way out - and what surprises they storyline has in stock.
The Magic Bullet: It was fun to see how they play with the notion of "Magic Bullet". After all, the Magic Bullet was both the name of the book-shop and the bullet that went through Jasmine (thus was baptized or bewitched) and then hit Angel. That was a smart - so smart, I tend to forget to think about things such as why Fred was so sure, Jasmine and Angel would come to the book-shop (since the whole gang isn’t going out with her all the time) and why she was so sure, the bullet would go through Jasmine’s body - and not be trapped by bones, intestines or whatever.
Connor: At the end, Connor seemed to be immune against Jasmine’s blood. It could be explained by the fact that he - as Jasmine’s father, technically - shares some kind of blood bond with her, and that his blood just as Cordy’s blood can be used to take the spell away, but that he can’t be turned that easily - which leads to the question if Cordy will be loyal to Jasmine if she awakes.
In terms of story plotting, Connor - as many times before - was the weakest part. Putting him against Angel - how many times did we see that before? It would have been nice to see them both on the same side for a change. Perhaps his denial of what Jasmine is, isn’t so much influenced by magic and the blood, but by his character? Perhaps he felt so good to belong somewhere - a feeling he didn’t have ever before - that he decided to stay with Jasmine, against yielding to the sadness of real life, the problems, the difficulties that come with it?
It would be much better to see his behaviour put into some frame like that. Magic coming into the mix, bouncing off or enthralling, never is as thrilling as to see how real characters deal with it, deal with life under extraordinary circumstances. To learn and convey that, that’s Joss Whedon’s amazing achievement.
But hey, what do you think about this weeks TMB? Let me know! As always, I’m keen on feedback. I’ll add the most interesting points of view to my feedback section.
Shortcuts: AtS 4.19. The Magic Bullet
What happened? Fred figured a way out to break Jasmine’s spell. Her blood and yours have to be mixed. So she shot Jasmine, the bullet went through her body and into Angel’s - which made him see Jasmine as she is. Angel then figured out, Cordy’s blood could do the trick as well, and it did. They turned all of the gang - only Connor called for Jasmine at the end, and seemed not to be affected by her blood, putting him once again against his father.
Topics addressed? Lots: How can Jasmine’s spell be broken? Where does she get her energy from? It’s by eating people, and of course, it’s "cool" as Connor put it. This week’s TMB was pretty much of a "gather the troops" kinda ep.
Any strange things? Gwenn’s still not to be seen; why was Fred so sure she would keep the gun, Jasmine would be coming to the shop, Angel would be with her and the bullet would make it through Jasmine’s body?
Was it good or not? Yes, it was. Four stakes out of five.
What do you hope for? For Gwenn.
Feedback (updated frequently)
Jasmine: Carl writes, the twist is, Jasmine is good after all - and that’s why it seems impossible to break her spell. It can’t be broken, because she’s the good one. I doubt that - why is she eating people if she’s good? And if she really is good, why should that be a reason for her spell being unbreakable?
Connor: Laura says, she’s sure, Connor was calling for Jasmine, because he doesn’t want to see her as she is. When he sees her (and the worms), he’ll turn. Tiffany added an interesting thought about the "the father will kill the son" prophecy: What if Connor’s blood really can turn people "infected" by Jasmine? And what if he himself can’t be turned? Could it be that Angel has to kill Connor to free those people? Well, it could be, that Jasmine somehow need her parents around to live - Connor and Cordy - and by losing one or both of them, her power will be reduced. But aren’t you suggesting Angel’s killing Connor rather explosively, so his blood can spread? I doubt the WB would a show like that allow to be aired. To be honest, I doubt, we’ll see blood as a solution to cure those people infected. It may cure them, but there are many more to be converted to Jasmine, so they have to go for her. And they most probably will. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to dismiss the whole Angel having to kill Connor idea. Seems possible.
By Billie :
Lorne: "I thought Our Lady of the Perpetual Sea Breeze was the real deal, until the divine Miss J. walked right through that door and into my ass."
This episode served its purpose, since everyone (but Connor) is now back on board and aware of Jasmine not being God, but that’s about it. And it was certainly not improved by the gross green people-eater with the miniscule bladder.
Fred showed some remarkable courage and intelligence, figuring out how she had been affected by Jasmine’s blood and setting it up that whole magic bullet thing in, coincidentally, "Magic Bullet Books." But if she’s so smart, why the heck did she go back to her motel room? Anyone who’s ever seen a movie in their entire life knows better than that.
The best part of this episode was the Paranoid Guy in the book store, and what Jasmine told him about the Kennedy assassination (which of course is where the "Magic Bullet" reference comes from — the bullet that somehow managed to hit both Kennedy and Connolly, and here, Jasmine and Angel). You could tell that Paranoid Guy still really *wanted* to be paranoid, even though he couldn’t shake off Jasmine’s spell.
The second best part was "open mike night," especially Angel and Connor’s duet to the tune of "Mandy." We also got a small glimpse into Connor’s childhood when he told Angel that horror story about how Holtz taught him to track.
Paranoid Guy was smitten when he heard her voice on the radio; does Jasmine’s spell transmit through her voice? Or does seeing her do it, too? I’m also wondering why the spell broke for Fred and Angel when they saw Jasmine’s face, but Lorne, Wes and Gunn all just *changed* after being exposed to Cordelia’s blood? Consistency is a gem and all that. It does make sense that Connor wasn’t "cured," since he’s Jasmine’s father and, like Cordelia, shares a blood tie with her.
Breaking the spell seems akin to withdrawal; everyone is sad and depressed, and even longing to be back under her spell. This can’t be good.
So Jasmine is eating people, huh? She put away seven of them in this episode; I counted. That’s a lot of mass. I wonder where she’s putting it? Maybe it takes a lot of energy to be God. She keeps getting injured, but manages to heal herself; that’s got to take some energy, too.
Bits and pieces:
— Cordelia is still in her coma, and had no lines again. I thought having the Jasmine-followers worship Cordelia as the Holy Mother was a hoot.
— Jasmine called Connor, "My sweet boy." Shades of Darla and Angel. Come to think of it, Jasmine is Darla’s granddaughter, isn’t she?
— Lorne: "I got pilgrims pitching pup tents in the parking lot. Try saying that three times fast."
— How can the hotel be full? Isn’t it mostly empty and/or trashed rooms? They must have had the guests do the cleaning, furnishing and renovation as well as fix the plumbing, huh? Plus, I was thinking, all those extras in so many scenes must have made it a bitch to shoot.
— Wesley: "I’ll get him. I’ve kidnapped him before."
— Lorne: "Tonight, the role of Judas Iscariot will be played by Krevlorneswath of the Deathwok Clan."
— I absolutely loved the opening shots with the convertible, kisses, ice cream, and the Beach Boys singing, "Wouldn’t it be nice."
— The preview implied that there would be Angel/Fred smoochies, and it was a fake-out. I feel cheated. Not that I actually *wanted* Angel/Fred smoochies.
— Gina Torres is as tall as the guys in the cast.
Fred is still on the run, but Jasmine doesn’t seem terribly concerned about finding her right away. There are minions to attend to, hundreds of them filling up the hotel, waiting for a chance to see their idol. Jasmine knows what each person is thinking, and tells them exactly what they need to hear. She even invites some of them to visit her room alone. It would be kind of nice if it weren’t so gosh darn evil.
A conspiracy theorist’s paradise, called Magic Bullet Books, seems to be the only possible refuge for Fred - there’s no way its owner (an Art Bell fan) could be subjected to mind control, right? Wrong. This guy may be paranoid about the CIA, but he looooves Jasmine. Fred has been here recently, looking for books on mass hypnosis, but luckily for her, the guy doesn’t realize she’s not another Jasmaniac. As he’s giving her another useful tome, she notices that there’s a gun under the counter.
Angel and Connor have been looking for Fred again (Holtz had some really horrible methods for teaching Connor his tracking skills as a kid, by the way), but Jasmine telepathically calls them back to the hotel. Wesley is preparing to put her message online, but it’s not time for the rest of the world yet - she still has a lot to learn. Besides, she’s developing this psychic link with her followers, and wants to test it on somebody besides just Angel and Connor. She has the gang join hands, and they use their combined energies to locate Fred at the seedy motel she’s been staying at. Suddenly, Fred is being chased by several people, all of whom have gotten this message from Jasmine. One man even crashes his car, then steps out, engulfed in flames, still calmly telling Fred not to be afraid.
When this happens, Jasmine’s hand starts smoking, and she discovers that it’s badly burned. Apparently, there are still some kinks to work out of this system. She asks the guys to bring her a couple of people from the lobby.
Later, it’s open mike night at the Hyperion, with Jasmine’s faithful sharing their joy and, in one case, an unbelievably bad reworking of Angel’s favorite tune (is Barry Manilow getting royalties from this ridicule?).
Meanwhile, Fred has stumbled into the lair of a diminutive demon, who is also on the run from Her Creepiness. He seems relatively harmless, at least until he decides to snack on Fred. She kills him, but not before getting a chunk torn out of her arm. The injury gives her a bright idea.
Fred lures Jasmine to the bookstore, with Connor and Angel in tow. As soon as she gets the chance, Fred grabs the owner’s gun, firing it at Jasmine’s shoulder. Angel is standing right behind Jasmine, and the bullet goes through his shoulder, too. He attacks Fred, but she convinces him to look at Jasmine. When he sees the icky zombie head, he freaks out, and Jasmine realizes what’s happened. Fred shoots her again, multiple times, and Connor leads his goddess to safety, while Angel gets Fred out the back way. Before she leaves, Jasmine tells the owner to burn the place down, eliminating all traces of her blood.
See, Fred has figured out that having her blood mingle with Jasmine’s when she was washing the shirt enabled her to see what was happening, so having the bullet pass through Jasmine and Angel would have the same effect on him. He’s sort of grateful, sort of depressed, and mostly worried, since Jasmine’s people will be after them now. When a group of said people comes looking for them, Fred and Angel fake making out, hoping the baddies will move on. No such luck - they have to fight.
Back at the hotel, Jasmine tells the others that Angel has been "infected," and chooses three of her followers to accompany her upstairs. She has Connor keep watch outside, while she heals her gunshot would, then has the people disrobe. Later, Connor notices a bright, green glow coming from inside the room. Jasmine walks out, gradually taking her usual form again. When Connor asks what happened to her visitors, she cheerfully reveals that she ate them. He pronounces this "cool" and that’s that.
Fred and Angel sneak into the hotel and kneel beside Cordelia’s bed. Angel has the idea that Cordy’s blood might have the same effect as Jasmine’s, so he drains a little from her hand into a cup. Lorne comes in to pay his respects to the woman who gave birth to peace on Earth, and Fred and Angel successfully corner him.
Lorne gets Gunn and Wesley to come upstairs, and they get taken care of, too. The only person left is Connor, so Wes goes to get him.
Only the cure doesn’t work. Instead of seeing the truth like the rest of them, he runs out into the hallway, calling to the others for help.
I love titles with multiple meanings. "Magic bullet" is a term used to describe a cure-all, like a powerful medicine. There’s also the "magic bullet theory" associated with the Kennedy assassination ( as in "Lee Harvey Oswald would have had to have fired a magic bullet if he was acting alone"), which ties in with that bookstore owner’s conspiracy-minded bent (and the name of his shop). Finally, there’s the obvious, literal meaning - the bullet Fred fires through Jasmine and Angel causes him to see the truth, which leads to a means of breaking Jasmine’s spell over the gang.
Most of them, anyway. Connor appears to be immune, probably because he has the same blood connection with Jasmine that Cordelia does. If Cordy woke up, I bet she’d still be under the spell, too. This way, no matter what happens, Jasmine is guaranteed two devoted bodyguards. It’s a fairly clever plan.
Not that she needs Mommy and Daddy right now - she’s got thousands, maybe millions, under her control, which is going to make things especially tough for our heroes. They’re used to working in the shadows, but not to being hunted by everyone in L.A. This Psychic Fiends Network deal is going to make it almost impossible to avoid detection.
Jasmine does have some weaknesses, though. Aside from the blood cure, she is physically vulnerable, to some degree. She heals fast, but she can be wounded, and she seemed shaken and bewildered by the shooting and getting burned while looking for Fred.
It seems that she’s been chowing down on minions in order to survive, and somebody’s bound to notice that eventually. Even if they don’t notice (or don’t care), she’ll eventually run out of menu items. She’s poised to expand her power base beyond Los Angeles, which could make her stronger and weaker at the same time, bringing in more followers, but also increasing the likelihood that an organized resistance could emerge. The more tired and frustrated she gets, the more dangerous she’ll be, but that could also allow her to slip up. Angel and his friends are pretty good at exploiting those tiny weaknesses in seemingly unbeatable foes. It’s kind of what they do.
Jeffrey Bell has got the whole cult atmosphere nailed - heck, I’ve been to "legitimate" churches where people behaved pretty much as Jasmine’s minions do, right down to the weepy testimonials and heinous music. There’s always that underlying hostility toward people who don’t believe, too, and an inability to understand why anyone wouldn’t accept the love freely given. What Fred and the others go through upon learning the truth is very much what people experience when they leave a strongly held belief system, especially a religious one. There’s an emptiness and sense of loss that is quite overwhelming, but ultimately, it’s better to know the truth than to be a mindless sheep. Especially when you’re a mindless sheep for a chick with a rotting head.
Bell also gets in some good, freaky Twilight Zone-esque moments, especially when Jasmine’s followers turn on Fred at the motel. And the dude on fire was disturbing, too, showing just how much control Jasmine really exerts over her people. There were a couple of scenes that dragged, and I’m not at all sold on the Fred/Angel kissage (ruse or not), but this was mighty fine work otherwise.