Angel - Magic Bullet

Summary

Happy music plays, LA is full of happy, shiny people, everyone smiles and is polite. It comes to a halt as we see Fred fleeing from Wesley and Gunn. They lose her, see her jacket, and pursue it until they discover she gave it to another woman (saying Jasmine wanted her to have it). They've lost her. We see she's gone to the sewers.

The hotel is packed with people who have come there to be near Jasmine. They are completely booked. A man offers Lorne his house in exchange for a room so he can be near Jasmine. But Lorne says it doesn't work that way, they don't want his possessions. The man says he just wants to be near her. Jasmine enters. She goes to a pregnant Chinese woman and speaks to her in Mandarin saying her baby will be healthy and happy. Angel asks how she does it. She says Mandarin is easy when you've been around long enough. He says he means how she knows what to say to people. She says she looks in their hearts. She approaches a man and in Spanish praises his mustache. Connor says he wishes he could see what she does. She says he will. Gunn and Wesley enter. Angel and Connor go with them into the office where they learn Fred escaped. They are eager to capture and kill her, though not before Jasmine can interrogate her. They cannot understand why she would reject Jasmine's love. Jasmine invites a woman and the man with the house to go with her.

Fred enters the Magic Bullet book store. She was there three days earlier looking for a book about mass hypnosis. But none of the books the owner gave her made sense to her. She says she's looking for something which would let you control everyone. He says he may have something. He reveals no one has come to the store in three days. He says there isn't much demand for his kind of books when you are living in a utopian wonderland. She says it must be tough. He says he's never been happier. He heard Jasmine on the radio. He still believes in the conspiracies and that he has implants in his brain with the CIA listening in on everything he does, it just doesn't bother him anymore. He says he gets what she's doing. He pulls stuff out of a drawer, including a gun, and a book on making mind control work for you. He says she wants to fight fire with fire. That she wants to beam out Jasmine's love. He says she doesn't need to do such things, that Jasmine's love will do it for them.

Connor and Angel are in the sewer tracking Fred. Angel asks how old Connor was when he learnt to track. Connor says he was 5 or 6, that Holtz made up a game so he could practise. Holtz would tie him to a tree and run away. Connor would have to free himself and find Holtz. Once it only took him 5 days. Angel thinks this is terrible. Connor says that's why he's so good at tracking. They both suddenly pause, get a beatific look on their faces, and say Jasmine wants them back at the hotel. Jasmine is watching a tape of the appearance she made on tv on a laptop. They are working on a web site which Wesley says could be ready in a couple of days. Gunn doesn't know why she doesn't just go on tv, she says she isn't ready yet and has a lot to learn. Angel and Connor enter. She explains they are all becoming connected. She wants to use that to find Fred. She has them all join hands in a circle (with Connor and Angel on either side of her). She says she can't do this alone yet and needs their help. She has them think of Fred. We see Fred going to a cheap motel. A woman standing and smoking turns and looks at her. Jasmine says she sees her. As she goes to her room, a man looks out the window at her. A couple (I'm not sure of the relationship but sex was definitely involved there) come out and look at her. She turns and leaves. The smoking woman grabs her, she breaks free and runs. Another woman appears and she changes direction. A man in a car pursues her. He crashes the car, there's an explosion and fire. He comes out to pursue her and catches fire. He calls to her telling her not to be afraid. Jasmine's hands are burnt, like the burning man. Connor lets go of her hot hand and this breaks the contact. They want to call a doctor, but Jasmine says she'll be fine. She says she saw Fred, but there are some kinks to work out. She says now everyone knows what Fred looks like and knows to call them. Angel says the hotel is full of people that need them. Lorne starts the quote about people needing people and Connor finishes it. Everyone stares at him and Jasmine explains everything is becoming connected. Gunn suddenly realizes the hot water is out on the third floor. Wesley says there is a plumber in the lobby who can help. Jasmine says that's her point. She says she has to rest and heal. She asks them to send up twin sisters from the lobby.

Fred is in a park. A passing car pursues her. She flees, falls down a slope, and into a hole where she lands on top of a demon. They struggle, she grabs an axe lying on the ground, and he shouts he's a vegetarian. She looks at his teeth and doubts it. He says he eats fish and vermin. She tells the demon to sit down and shut up while she figures some things out or she'll chop him.

Wesley is talking to the crowd at the hotel. He has a picture of Fred and is telling them she is dangerous and insane. He hands things over to Lorne who says Jasmine is resting after a tiring day. He says the hot water is back on on the third floor. He then says it is open mike night and anyone who wants can come up and say how much they love Jasmine. There follows a series of quick cuts of people doing this. A little boy says Jasmine makes food taste good. A woman cries. A man shouts 'Jasmine rocks'. A woman uses sign language to say she wishes she could be inside Fred's head so she could explode it and kill her. Lorne sings 'Freddie's Dead'. An elderly woman says she has 37 cats and has changed all their names to Jasmine. We see the crying woman again. Angel and Connor do a duet of Mandy substituting the name Jasmine. Watching Gunn says they should do this every night.

In the hole, the demon complains about the cold. Fred thought he lived there, but he says who would live in a hole in the ground. He was an executive demon. He has been driven there because of the antidemon jihad of Jasmine. Fred says she's there because of Jasmine, too. The demon is sarcastic about this causing a bond between them. Fred says they have to figure out how to stop Jasmine. He says not tonight, he has to sleep. He picks up a blanket and reveals a bunch of human hands. He pretends they aren't his. He admits he's not a vegetarian. He breaks off a finger and eats it. He offers her the hand saying 'finger food'. He attacks Fred. She hits him in the head with the axe and kills him. She's bleeding. She seems to have a revelation.

Fred is standing in front of the book store. A crowd is staring at her. She enters, Jasmine says Fred. The owner is there and he says they are under strict orders not to hurt her. She has the axe. She asks if Jasmine is coming. He says yes. He asks for her autograph. She steps behind the counter and asks who she should sign it to. Jasmine enters (with Angel and Connor). She goes to the owner and as a reward tells him there was no second gunman and Oswald acted alone. Jasmine says she loves her and there is nothing Fred can do or say to stop that. Fred says she's sorry. Jasmine forgives her, but she says she's talking to Angel and hopes he can forgive her. She takes out the gun the bookstore owner had behind the counter and shoots Jasmine. The bullet exits her body and hits Angel. He goes vampire and attacks Fred. She tells him to look at Jasmine, he sees her as she truly is. He's stunned and falls back. Fred says she's sorry but she had to show him. Connor says what. Angel is devastated. Jasmine realizes it's her blood. She tells Connor Angel has been infected. Fred grabs the gun and shoots Jasmine several times. Connor knocks her down. Then he knocks down an approaching Angel. Angel picks up Fred and flees. Jasmine stops Connor from pursuing saying she needs his help. She realizes they have to clean up the blood and tells the owner to burn the store to the ground. He sets fire to some books and asks if he should stay. Jasmine and Connor leave.

The others, along with the crowd, are having dinner at the hotel. They say the food taste good, but isn't satisfying without Jasmine there. She enters with Connor and they sense something is wrong. They follow her and Connor into another room where she explains Fred infected Angel. She says her kindness was at fault. By trying to save Fred they lost Angel. She says they have to eradicate Fred and Angel's hate. Jasmine goes into the other room where people are eating and picks three of them to go with her and Connor. Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne are amazed Fred was able to make Angel evil, but Wesley says it doesn't matter since now Angel will die.

Fred comes to and asks Angel if he's ok. He says the bullet is like a bee sting. She says that's not what she meant and he says he knows and he doesn't want to talk about it. She says she thinks he does. He says he misses her. Fred says she knows. She says it's been over a week and she still cries. She explains that mingling Jasmine's blood with theirs breaks the spell. She says it must have happened to her when she was cleaning the blouse. Angel says she did the right thing and it took courage. Fred cries. She says she's been so alone and she's not a champion. Angel disagrees. She says they need more of Jasmine's blood. He says they'll never get close to her. Then he has an idea. Before he can explain, they hear voices. Fred kisses him, trying to make it look like they are just an innocent couple making out. She asks if he thinks they bought it. He says he did. But when they turn the crowd attacks them. They fight.

Jasmine takes the three people she chose into her room and tells Connor to stand guard and not let anyone into the hallway. In the room, she tells the three to take off their clothes. She looks at her wounds and they magically heal. Cut to the room where Cordelia is. It's been turned into a kind of shrine and some Jasmine fans are adoring her. They leave and Fred and Angel come in through the window. Angel accidently knocks some things over as he clambers in. They talk about Cordelia being brain dead. Angel walks to her with a knife. He leans over and kisses her on the forehead whispering he's sorry. He goes to cut her and her hand comes up and grabs his arm. Fred says it doesn't mean anything, that sometimes people in comas do things. Angel goes to cut her. Connor is smilingly dreamily in the hallway outside Jasmine's room. A light emanates from the room. Angel and Fred are bleeding Cordelia. Lorne enters, but it's dark and he doesn't realize it's them. He cleans up the mess Angel made entering. He walks over to Cordelia and prays. He sees her bleeding and starts to shout. Angel grabs him. The light in the hallway is brighter and a glowing Jasmine, fully healed, comes out. The glow abates. He asks where the people are and she says she ate them. He says cool.

Lorne is cured. He goes downstairs and gets Wesley and Gunn. They notice his wrist is cut, but he tells them it's a long story and leads them upstairs. He leads them to a room and follows with a baseball bat. Next, we see they have their wrists slit and are cured. Fred explains Angel figured out that Cordelia's blood would work given that she gave birth to Jasmine. Lorne, Gunn, and Wesley are really depressed. They realize they have no plan to cure the world of Jasmine addiction, but Angel says at the least he won't leave without Connor. Wesley says he'll get him, he's kidnapped him before. A docile Connor follows Wesley to the room. There he's seized, cut, and smeared with blood. He stops struggling. Fred says the sadness he is feeling is normal. Angel asks if he understands why they are there and Connor nods. Connor walks to the door, opens it, and shouts "they're here, come quick, they're here".

Analysis

The best moment of this episode had nothing to do with the plot. It didn't involve Fred or Angel or even Connor. It was Jasmine's reward to the bookstore owner. The confirmation that Oswald acted alone. Of course, a guy who believes the CIA has put implants in his brain, who worships a demon born of the union between a two partial demons one of whom is the child of two vampires one of whom was raised from the dead and the other of whom is cursed with a soul, well of course a guy like that would think the biggest mystery in life is the Kennedy assassination. The second best moment, and it may be too close to call, was open mike night with Angel and Connor doing a duet on a Jasminized version of Mandy.

I've also got to take a moment, or a paragraph, to point out I was spot on in my analysis of why some people were able to see Jasmine for what she really was. And, believe me, the theory I posited in my review of Shiny Happy People was written before I had seen this episode or knew anything about it. Not only is this really satisfying, for me, but it gives me more reason to praise the brilliant writing on this series. After all, they're writing it the way I would so they must be doing the right thing.

The Jasmine effect is being paralleled to drug addiction (I have to give my friend Jeff credit for pointing this out to me). Everyone is artificially happy, their ability to think for themselves impaired. They are desperate for more and more of the drug and willing to do anything to get it. We see the man offering his home to Lorne just for a chance to be near Jasmine. Basically he's willing to pay anything for more of the Jasmine drug. And, ultimately, he pays with his life. Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne talk about how food isn't satisfying without Jasmine (the little boy basically says the same thing). The Jasmine drug is essential to all happiness for them and no other pleasure is truly pleasing without Jasmine there. The blood on blood treatment is a rapid fire method of going cold turkey. But the withdrawal effects are still there. The characters all remark on them. Fred says she is still crying. She says the sadness, after the fake euphoria of the Jasmine addiction, will lessen with time. Lorne talks of wanting to slit his wrist. Gunn and Wesley are both depressed. Even if they succeed in freeing everyone from the influence, what do you do with a city full of depressed people. I'm not clear on whether they failed to detoxify Connor, whether he just doesn't care, or whether he's playing some deeper game. If the blood on blood treatment failed, it may be because Connor is Jasmine's father and so has a blood/mystical connection to her which may make the addiction stronger and harder to break.

We really haven't had any insight into Connor's childhood, so the revelation about being tied up and abandoned by Holtz to hone his tracking skills was really a big one. It does build sympathy for Connor, we knew he didn't have a normal childhood but we didn't know how abusive Holtz was. That abusive past makes him a great candidate for drug addiction - when you come down to it Connor is an abused kid who ran away from home, lived on the streets, and got into drugs. I have to wonder whether Connor hooking up with the drug addict girl, way back in A New World, wasn't a hint of his own eventual mystical addiction to Jasmine.

There have been a series of hints this season that Connor is gay. I don't know where they are going with this, but there are so many of them I can't believe they are unintentional. You've got Angel constantly referring to Connor as confused, a phrasing often used by uncomfortable straight parents about gay children they hope really aren't gay. You've got the odd statement by Willow in Orpheus about Connor being androgynous. Fred has always referred to his relationship with Cordelia as icky and disgusting and the thought of them having sex seems to revolt her. She uses the excuse of Cordelia being his pseudomother - but that's pretty lame. Of course, it isn't a homosexual relationship but her reaction is very similar of that of homophobes to such a relationship. And the US supreme court, currently debating the constitutionality of laws prohibiting homosexual sexual activity has been given the argument that to strike down such laws would also strike down incest laws - the act Fred compares this to. And now we have Connor not only finishing the Streisand quote by Lorne but Lorne asking if he was sneaking peeks at Lorne's Streisand collection again. The again is the key part. Lorne, of course, is also a sexually ambiguous character about whom there has been much debate. Having Connor be like him, especially around Streisand, is highly suggestive. And then there is the Mandy duet with Angel. Can Garland be far behind for Connor?

The bookstore is called Magic Bullet Books. That's a reference to the bullet Fred fires which combines Jasmine's blood with Angel's and cures him. Magic bullet is also a term often used to refer to miracle cures. This refers both to Jasmine's miraculous powers of solving everyone's problems and to the cure for Jasmine. I think it also refers to the bullet which killed JFK. Many conspiracy theorists argued that it would have to be a magic bullet to do the things the Warren commission said it did.

Some quick final thoughts. Was the demon in the hole channelling Wallace Shawn? Okay, Angel slept with Buffy and Darla. He had a thing going with Cordelia. And now there's the kiss with Fred which seems to promise more. And Fred has both Gunn and Wesley on a string. Could maybe some of these characters not be romantically involved with the others? Jasmine's eating of her followers is a sort of inverted Eucharist. Lorne's reference to himself as Judas is another religious reference. Lorne, of course, acts very much like an evangelical preacher. And the demon in the hole refers to a jihad against demons by Jasmine. We've seen Cordelia become a champion and Wesley. Both of them started as comic relief. Now the same thing seems to be happening to Fred. This is one of the ways the show keeps itself fresh, by evolving characters and not keeping them trapped in a stereotype.

Lines of the week:

"Why should we be the only shiny, happy people?" - Fred faking it.

"We don't need to use the evil tools of the man when we have the woman." - Conspiracy guy not faking it.

"I can't do this alone, not yet." - Jasmine letting us know there are limits to her power.

"You know what they say about people who need people."
"They're the luckiest people in the world"
"You been sneaking peeks at my Streisand collection again?" - Connor finishing Lorne's sentence and Lorne with a really interesting accusation.

"No one will ever have to feel lonely again." - Jasmine getting really scary.

"With those choppers." - Fred demonstrating the scientific method.

"We should be doing this every night." - Gunn watching Angel and Connor sing and proving he's brainwashed.

"Finger food?" - Demon with a sense of humour.

"Dallas. November 22, 1963. There was no second gunman. Oswald acted alone." - Jasmine solving the big mystery.

"I loved you so much." - Fred really angry.

"You ruin everything." - Connor with his constant complaint about Angel.

"Everything I see says different." - Angel on Fred claiming she's not a champion.

"You slashed this wrist. Now I'm ready to do the other one myself." - Lorne in withdrawal.

"I've kidnapped him before." - Wesley getting even darker than before.

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