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Angel 4x21 Peace Out - Review

Thursday 1 May 2003, by Webmaster

05/01/2003 Entry: "TONIGHT’S ANGEL (Spoilers)"

Angel’s quest comes to a head, Gunn kicks open the cell door that held Angelus (!), Conner the dad undertakes some tough love, and whoever wrote the opening credits should be shot. All this and more on a seriously nifty conclusion to the Jasmine storyline.

Okay, well...considering her true name seems to be "Ahhhiiiihhhh," which could be just about any damned thing, I’m going to stick with my opinion that she was Lilith. So there, nyaah.

Man does this show rock. I’m not just talking the national reveal of Jasmine, or the gloriously circular conversation with the keeper of the word (as opposed to the keeper of the name), or the fact that, blast them, they actually made me start to like (gulp) Conner, or the fight scenes, or the serious Excedrin headache that Conner gave his daughter. I’m talking in that all the years of both BTVS and "Angel," we’ve never had a Big Bad do such a terrific job of explaining just exactly why they’re not a Big Bad at all. In the real world, evil is never in black and white, but shades of grey. Evil never believes it’s evil. It always believes it’s serving a greater good. Jasmine is the first Big Bad in the Whedon-verse that I can think of who had that very realistic attitude. The only scene to come close to her "You iiiiiidiot!" chat with Angel was Glory’s tete-a-tete with Dawn in which Glory made a laceratingly accurate description of mankind and described herself as the original one-eyed queen in the kingdom of the blind.

It’s all so simple. Just give up free will and the desire to think for yourself, and you’ll be happy. And really...isn’t that what we’re always being told? Embrace what Madison Avenue is selling, and you’ll be happy. Embrace a particular religious dogma, and you’ll be happy. Embrace the right -ism, and you’ll be happy. Just turn off your brain, give yourself over, and Don’t Worry About it. Jasmine was really the logical culmination of what we do to ourselves every single day, which is why the story worked so spectacularly.

The only fly in the ointment: In the past, when a surprise person shows up at the end, they put their name in the end credits to maintain the surprise. So there’s Stephanie Romanov’s name, and I’m thinking, "So Lyla’s in the episode? Nice trick." And of course, she’s the big surprise reveal at the end...except since time was ticking away, it was pretty obvious what that "surprise" was going to be. So, y’know, I’m glad Romanov got her up-front credit, but I wish they’d saved it for the end.

Next week, from what I hear, serves "Angel" almost as a backdoor pilot for their own series. Whedon’s been talking about a "paradigm shift," wanting to sell the network on a new take for "Angel." Next week’s episode is obviously it. I’m not sure I’m ecstatic about Wolfram and Hart coming back to life. Should the Senior Partners have *that* much power? On the other hand, hey...another shot at Wesley and Lyla, so, y’know...

All in all, great job. Kudos to all concerned, on the off chance they read this blog.


From Entertainment-geekly :

Did everyone else but me know that this was the penultimate episode of the season? Here I am, ticking blithely along, expecting a nice long Jasmine arc, to be followed be a short break, then we’d get the last couple of eps to tie it all up and coincide with the Buffy finale. At least, that’s what should have happened. It’s a sad world we live in where TV studios only care about profits and just can’t get along.

Sad indeed.

We’re back on track this week as we get an hour full of Angel vs. The Spider People, Connor vs. Jasmine, and Gunn vs. an Inanimate Steel Rod.

Expertly scripted by David Fury, the pacing in "Peace Out" is much more in line with what we’re used to seeing from Angel. Those who complained that the past couple of episodes went nowhere are finally given their big fight scenes, back-stabbing, and otherworldly goings-on. Those who’ve bided their time, waiting for the inevitable payoff - well, we get that too.

But first, The Moppet. He emotes, he rants, he chews scenery, he puts his fist through the heads of Gods! Connor is in fine form this week as his motivations and machinations all unravel. With all the talk of brainwashing, it was easier to assume that Connor was under a spell, just a more advanced form. When we find out that he’s seen Jasmine for what she is all along, bought into her lies because they sound like the best alternative, it adds a level to our floppy-haired half-vamp that has been sorely missing this season. Of course, then he finds Cordy. The scenes that follow are completely overwrought and display a level of angst that seems only partially believable. The fact that they’re all done on a set that looks like something out of a high school production of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t help. It isn’t until the end, when Connor has run to help his "daughter," when he makes good on that perennial threat "I brought ya into this world, and I can take ya out," that we see that conflict realized. He’s more than just a whiney brat - he’s torn between trusting his own feelings and trusting Angel’s intentions. In the end, he wants the same thing that Angel wants, that Jasmine says she wants, he wants a world at peace, some place as far removed from Kortas as possible. It’s rare when a single scene can shift my entire opinion of a character, and, honestly, this one didn’t. But at least I now care about the character. I finally think I’m starting to see what makes the Moppet tick and it’s intriguing. If we can just get over this Sweet Valley High crap, I may end up liking him against my better judgment.

Now, speaking of her low & Maggotyness, that had to be one of the most satisfying Big Bad death scenes I’ve ever seen. It’s stark, it’s graphic, it’s final. Much better than the "seen it a million times before" Kicking-Angel’s-Ass scene that leads up to it. Watching Jasmine devolve quickly from Bringer of Light to Devourer was quite satisfying. The only problem (and this is something that I’ve heard quite a few people bring up) is...why Earth? Why exactly does she love this world enough to enslave or destroy humanity? Is it because we’re easy targets? Is it because we’ve got Hot Pockets? A little more revelation behind Jasmine’s motivations would have been welcome. I’d like to know if she truly believed that this was the best way to "save" humanity, if she really want to help us in her own twisted way. Still, what we do get, namely that Spider-Boy and his ilk were "experiments" and that all Jasmine requires from her followers is maybe a gargantuan temple where she can devour them...nothing big, are great tidbits.

The rest of the episode is put together perfectly - pulling us out of the action when we need a break (Gunn’s Steel Cage match with...um...a steel cage, is great), giving us a laugh when we least expect it (Angel’s "Who’s on First" routine with the Guardian of the Word...who doesn’t really Guard the Word but, instead, the Keeper of the Name, which is the same as the Word, but not really), and, finally, yanking us right off our feet just when we think we’ve got everything figured out (apparently death and dismemberment isn’t all that permanent nowadays).

Have there been better Big Bad finales in the Buffy-verse? Sure. But this one gets my vote as one of the best. Now if only we could go back a and whittle down the last three eps to fit into two...that’d be perfect.

Next Week: Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Ebony and Ivory. Wolfrham & Hart and...Angel?

Witty Observation of the Week: "I grew up in a Hell Dimension...Looks don’t really count." - Connor

From ScoopMe.com :

Peace Out: Walking Away from Omelas by Josh Buckman 5/1/2003

"The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice."
- George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Murder. Rape. Child abuse. Starvation. Biological weapons. War. Terrorist attacks. The threat of nuclear war. Can you imagine a world where these horrible acts are no longer worries? Can you imagine a world where the fear and hate that is responsible for such atrocities is replaced with love and happiness?

It would be a paradise. It’s something we all wish for. It’s something some of us hope we’ll be rewarded with when our lives are over. We hope some day to see the end of a suffering and the beginning of lasting peace. But what if we didn’t have to wait? What if we could have it right now? What if paradise was a reality, and all you had to do to get it was give up the option of doing evil?

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I mean, who is going to complain about not getting to hurt other people? Does anyone really want to be tempted to do harm to his neighbor?

So here’s the deal. You have to choose between living in peace and harmony with your fellow man or having the option to do evil. When you think about it, the average, selfless human being would hardly choose to inflict pain upon his fellow man over ending all suffering. It would take the most selfish, pig-headed, or evil personalities in the world to let fear, confusion and death win over peace, understanding and life when presented with the two options, wouldn’t it? Which one would you choose?

Wait a minute. This just in - you don’t have a choice.

Sorry, but you’re automatically lumped into the category of the righteous. Your free will is gone, and you didn’t even voluntarily give it up. You became a slave to happiness without having any say in the matter. You didn’t choose it, you didn’t earn it and you can’t give it up.

Still, you’re happy. No matter what your financial standing is, no matter what you look like, no matter how healthy you are, you blissfully love life. There’s no more doubting your potential or self-loathing. Would you really mind being forced into that kind of personal joy?

Hold on again. There’s something else. In order for you to be that happy, thousands unwillingly faced a very gruesome and painful death. For you to stay that happy, thousands more will continue to (unknowingly) sacrifice themselves. Oh, and there’s just one more tiny, little detail. The benevolent entity that brings you such happiness just might physically control your body in order to use you to slaughter the very few people who do retain their free will.

It’s sounding more and more like raw deal, isn’t it? Sure, everyone is happy and blissful, but we’re all happy and blissful zombies. That which has made us human, our free will, is gone. That which has made us somewhat deserving of such a paradise, our ability to choose to do right, has vanished. There would be little difference between us and the vampires and demons that have no choice but to do evil. We would simply have no choice but to do good.

It’s not a reward; we haven’t earned it. It’s not a choice; we didn’t make it. It’s not a life; we’re not the ones living it.

Save brainwashing and chemical alteration, no one has the ability to take away your ability to choose. A. J. Toynbee once said, "As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is up to us."

It’s up to us to make the world a better place. It’s up to us to decide how to live in it. It’s up to us to be better than the demons and the animals. It’s up to us to use our free will to do right and suffer the consequences when we do not.

Angel understands this. The crazy thing is, that’s not even the main reason why he fights Jasmine’s joyful regime.

Unaware that Connor has freely chosen to serve Jasmine despite the knowledge that she is a false deity, Angel fights to save his son. He fights to free Connor from the control of a madwoman. He fights to save him from her imperialistic ideals. But most of all, he fights for his love.

In a world where everyone loves Jasmine, the few who do not are destined to either be outcasts or be destroyed. In order for Angel to ever be near his son again, Jasmine must be defeated.

The price for Jasmine’s version of worldwide peace was too high. The general population would have to pay with their free will and the lives of many of their own. For Angel, he’d have to pay with his only son.

That’s why she had to go down. And down she went, de-faced by her only freethinking follower.

Now the world is back to normal. All the misery, frustration and fear has returned.

The big bad was defeated.

So why don’t I feel like having a party?

Bat Gang Bites

Angel, ever the one to understand the need for redemption, offered Jasmine her chance to give it another go. Imagine the amount of good someone with her strength could have done for the world. For starters, she could kick Caleb’s hiney over on Buffy. However, she only wanted to do it the fast, easy way. When that was taken away from her, she went straight to the total annihilation backup plan. Talk about your sore losers. Connor proved that his real loyalties lay with Cordelia, not Jasmine. He followed Jasmine because he believes that is what Cordelia would have wanted. What will happen when he discovers that the Cordelia he knows and loves was really just puppet Cordelia? I do not believe we have seen a more psychologically tormented character in the history of the Buffyverse. At least Drusilla’s crazy happened on purpose! Was this truly the fulfillment of the prophecy we’ve heard so much about? Angel, faced with an apocalypse, doesn’t know if he’s going to be on the side of good or evil. Now, with world peace ending and a horrible monster defeated, some could say the moral ambiguity of the battle would fit the ambiguous nature of the prophecy perfectly. But what a letdown that would be after all the build up. "The Way, the Light, and the Word." The bug priest used all of these terms to refer to Jasmine. They’re all terms that refer to Jesus in the Bible. Are we supposed to compare Christian beliefs to Jasmine’s agenda? I find that, and any comparison to political leaders, a little hard to swallow, considering Jasmine’s complete removal of free will. Lilah is back? Is she dead? Does she signal the return of Wolfram & Hart? Will she (or Connor) be the fourth "big bad" we’ve seen this season? One thing is for sure, if the show ends with a cliffhanger this season, great amounts of screaming will occur! We’ve only got one episode left in the season. Although the show has not yet been officially renewed, all sources are optimistic. Sadly, renewal or not, there will be no more Angel reviews on ScoopMe. As you are probably aware, the site is going down sometime later this summer. However, make sure that you return a week after this season’s final episode air to read the season wrap-up and for a chance to look back on the great time we’ve spent discussing the show together.

Until then, hop on the boards below and join in a lively discussion with some of the smartest, wittiest and most passionate Angel fans on the net!

See you next week!