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4x18: "Shiny Happy People"
Review by Alexandra Jones
Posted on September 28, 2011
Writer: Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft | Director: Marita Grabiak | Air Date: 04/09/2003

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Spoiler Warning!
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
Review

Well, here she is at last. The Big Bad. Angel (AtS) doesn't quite follow the per-season arch-villain pattern of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I think it's still fair to say that Jasmine (or the 'Beastmaster,' to use her terrible nickname from previous episodes) has been the 'Big Bad' of Season Four. It's taken her eighteen episodes, and a lot of rather meandering plot, to show herself, but now she's finally here and Team Angel can get on with kicking some Big-Bad butt. Except that with only five episodes left until the end of this season, and only four of those devoted to the 'Jasmine arc,' we're unfortunately going to have to rush pretty quickly through to the conclusion of this story.

And because time's so scarce overall, once Jasmine arrives we only have a single episode available -- "Shiny Happy People" – to set the stage for the remainder of the season. Jasmine's only just appeared, in the very final moments of the previous episode, yet in only a few minutes into "Shiny Happy People" she's already met (and bewitched) the whole gang. Just twenty minutes of episode-time later, her power over Fred is broken, we've seen her creepy 'maggot-face' for the first time, and we've had our first hint at the blood-cure which will become the 'Magic Bullet' of the next episode. And by the end of the episode, she's already enslaving the entire population of LA. That's a heck of a lot of set-up to get through in a single episode. So, if the purpose of the episode is to set up the events of the following ones, then the big question is this: does it do a good job?

The first important plot point is obviously Jasmine's glamouring power, or whatever you want to call it, which we saw take hold of Angel and (supposedly) Connor at the very end of the last episode. I do find it fun to watch how each member of the gang is affected slightly differently, and how everyone still manages to be more or less him/herself even when under Jasmine's influence. Lorne expressing his love through interior design, Wesley suggesting lofty classical names for the as-yet-unnamed deity, Fred's single-minded obsession with solving the shirt problem - all of these actions seem completely in-character, and allow us to see that Jasmine's power doesn't simply turn everyone into mindless robots (compare the pod-people-students of Buffy's "Bad Eggs") but instead allows her to play on their existing strengths and weaknesses to accomplish her goals.

Unfortunately, though, Angel himself is the exception to this rule. It's partly the writing, and partly the acting, but I find David Boreanaz almost unwatchable here, particularly in the garden scene with Jasmine. The 'Jasmined' Angel is just - to quote the BuffyBot – "lame." I especially cringe every time I hear the line "you... have faith... in me?" because the way it's delivered is totally insincere and unconvincing, and the only way Boreanaz seems to show any emotion is by repeatedly narrowing and widening his eyes. And since this is my first review for this site, let me be clear that I usually have no problem with Boreanaz, or with Angel as a character, but I think he did a pretty poor job here. I actually get the impression throughout this episode that he's trying not to laugh, which kind of worked in "Spin The Bottle" [4x06] but is totally out of place here. Yes, the 'brainwashing' of the characters is played for laughs a few times (the completely deadpan Clorox discussion being my favourite of these), but ultimately it's incredibly sinister, and Angel shouldn't be smirking his way through the episode.

Thankfully, though, we're given a possible explanation for Angel's gormless behaviour, when he indicates to Jasmine that he's feeling overwhelmed and scared by how happy he suddenly is. I don't think it completely justifies the way his character is portrayed in this episode, but it's something, at least, so let's try to go along with it for now. This is a plot-heavy episode which is pretty light on character development, but there are still a couple of interesting moments for our eponymous hero. Angel is a character who's always been defined by his guilt and his quest for atonement, and now he's just... happy. Just like that. So what does he do now? His conversation with Fred at Cordelia's bedside is particularly noteworthy. Jasmine's told him to forget about all his anger and guilt, and now he seems to have done just that. He says to Fred, "isn't it a relief? The constant questioning? It's finally over." Of course, this is Shiny Happy Angel talking, and the 'real' Angel would never have let go that easily, but there's still something very telling about his comments here.

We know Angel better than to think he'd ever willingly turn his back on his mission. But at the same time, he's been at the forefront of a seemingly endless battle for a long time now, being the one who makes all the tough decisions and deals with the consequences. Now Jasmine's come along and completely taken over: there are no more grey areas, and he gets to fight the good fight by simply following her orders. It's no wonder he's so relieved here, and I think this ties in to his actions in Season 5, where he becomes more frustrated with the decisions and moral grey areas that he has to face alone whilst seemingly making no actual progress in the good fight.

Another interesting moment for Angel is a scene which doesn't actually feature Angel himself at all. When Connor comes to talk to Jasmine, Connor says that he doesn't believe himself to be a champion, because that's Angel's role. Jasmine replies "everything has its season: it's your time now, Connor." This has some direct relevance for the events of the next few episodes, as it is Connor, not Angel, who'll eventually stop Jasmine. But the idea that Angel might already have had his 'season,' and could now be becoming irrelevant, is one which increasingly bothers him in the next season once the ensouled Spike shows up to threaten his 'champion' status.

The second half of the episode gives us the next major plot point about Jasmine. Her power doesn't just make everyone worship her and love each other - it's actually making them see her as the beautiful mocha goddess that we've seen so far, and the reality is more than a little disgusting. Although the maggot-head puppet is, I think, a little silly if you look at it for too long, it works in this context because it's just so unexpected. Suddenly seeing this horrible, rotting, wriggling face speaking to Fred in such a gentle voice, sounding genuinely loving and concerned, is absurd, horrifying, and also a little funny (in a grotesque kind of way). It perfectly sets up Fred's struggle for the next episode-and-a-half.

I won't spend too long talking about Fred here, because although she has a few significant scenes I think her real character development comes in the next episode, "The Magic Bullet" [4x19], which Patrick's already done a great job of reviewing. I do have to agree with Patrick, though, that with so much focus on Fred being all alone, sneaking around trying not to get caught, it's absolutely shocking that we don't get even one mention of the five years she spent doing the same thing in Pylea. Fred's ditzy behaviour in this episode irritates me - this just isn't the Fred we've come to know and love. I like to think the genius who outsmarted Wesley in "Billy" [3x06] would come up with something cleverer than just trying to shoot Jasmine with a crossbow while surrounded by hundreds of people. I think the fact that she's still suffering from a Jasmine hangover is supposed to explain why she's behaving so oddly, but I still get angry when she says "I don't get called... I'm not the called type... I, you know, take messages..." Is that really what Fred's been doing for the past two seasons? Taking messages?

I'm also not really convinced by either of the scenes with John Stoler, the man who apparently first sees Jasmine's true face. We know virtually nothing about John, which means we can't tell whether or not he's behaving 'normally' for his character. All his ranting and raving in the hospital has me confused. For starters, why does he insist that "you've been called to the mission" and why does he say "don't trust her?" Sure, he's seen something very frightening and he's still reacting to that, but his words make it sound like he knows more than he ought to, having only seen Jasmine once. Maybe this was something the writers wanted to expand upon in later episodes that ended up being scrapped, or maybe John was already crazy to begin with, but we've really no way of knowing because we have absolutely no back story for the guy, and won't see him again after Fred leaves the hospital.

This is disappointing, because the only new thing we really learn from this scene is that Jasmine's touch can apparently rot human flesh; something which is never shown or mentioned again, despite the fact that she touches plenty of other people. Yes, I went back and watched carefully for scenes of Jasmine touching people, and it happens several times. So, did she deliberately do this to poor John's face? And if so, why? Or is it an accident? We find out later she's unaware of the effects of her own blood, so perhaps she also doesn't know about the effects of her touch. But we'll never know, because the writers have just set something up which is never put to any use or paid off in any meaningful way.

This brings me to my biggest problem with the episode. Yes, it sets up most of the major plot points well enough, but there are some important details which are completely missed. With a four-episode arc, there is no excuse for not having a completely watertight plot, yet even at this late stage it feels like the writers are still flapping around trying to make up their minds about where to go next. We get some set-up which is never paid off, such as the aforementioned flesh-rotting touch and John's deranged ranting, while some things which really should have been mentioned are simply missed. The major downfall, for me, is the treatment of Connor.

We learn in "Home" [4x22] that Connor was never really affected by Jasmine's power, and that he never actually experienced the bliss which everyone else was feeling when under her influence. It's a heart-breaking revelation for a character that's always been set apart from everyone around him, and I can well believe that this further alienation would be enough to tip this troubled teen over the edge. Except, watching these earlier Jasmine episodes, I just don't buy it. For starters, he falls to his knees almost as soon as he sees Jasmine. Okay, Angel's on his knees first, so it's conceivable that Connor's just going along with what his father's doing, but why would Connor feel the need to do that? If he's not under Jasmine's control, then why would he start acting all chummy with Team Angel, when in the previous episode he was convinced that they were all trying to kill Cordelia?

We do see a slightly troubled Connor telling Jasmine that he doesn't deserve to be so happy, but as far as I can tell there are no hints that he's got any doubts about Jasmine herself. For example, during the scene where Fred sees Jasmine's 'real' face, she's seeing what Connor's apparently been seeing the entire time. Connor is watching Fred's odd behaviour, and I feel that surely there should be some tiny flicker of understanding in his face - something which you'd miss on a first viewing, perhaps, but which you might spot on a re-watch. But there's nothing. This all makes me think that the writers still hadn't quite decided where the Connor part of the story was going to go, even while writing this, the 18th episode of the season.

While I find Connor's immunity to Jasmine to be the most gaping hole in this episode, I also feel that there are a few other things which should have been given even the tiniest bit of attention in an episode full of set-up for what follows. We are given a nice big clue about Jasmine's weak spot when she's unable to choose her own name, but the 'Spider Demons' who make it possible for Angel to exploit this weakness don't even appear until two episodes later ("Sacrifice" [4x20]). Although it may not have made sense to show us the actual demons just yet, it might have been nice to have some small hint that Jasmine's tried this plan before, on other worlds. And since we later learn that Cordelia has some kind of power-connection to Jasmine, perhaps we could have seen Jasmine giving her 'mother' a little more attention, beyond having the others light a lot of candles in her room.

On that subject, if you'll allow me to go just a little off-topic, I feel that we need to take a moment here to bid farewell to Cordelia - or more accurately, to Charisma Carpenter. From now on (except for her fabulous, fleeting, return in "You're Welcome" [5x12]) we'll only ever see her lying around in a coma, and in my opinion that doesn't count. Of course, since Cordelia's spent the whole of Season Four either suffering from amnesia or being possessed by the Beastmaster, we actually said goodbye to the 'real' Cordelia at the end of Season 3. But now Charisma's gone, too. I shouldn't dwell on this too much, because it's not really appropriate for a review of this particular episode, but I do feel compelled to mention how much I hate the way things went with Cordelia's character, and how it almost all seemed to come down to the writers not knowing how to handle Charisma's pregnancy. This all makes me very glad that the filming of AtS ended before Amy Acker's first pregnancy in 2004, because I dread to think how the writers would have tried to explain Illyria with a baby bump, let alone how they would have fitted a pregnant Amy into all that figure-hugging leather. But I digress...

To sum things up, "Shiny Happy People" does a decent job of getting us from A to B, which is a good thing, because B is where we need to be before the rest of this season can happen. It packs an impressive amount of plot development into a single episode, and that serves an important purpose, but some more attention to the little details could really have enhanced the whole Jasmine arc. And once the important plot set-up is out of the way, this episode unfortunately doesn't do a whole lot else. It's essential viewing when watching AtS for the first time, because without it, the rest of Season 4 wouldn't make any sense. But, beyond that, there isn't a great deal which makes it worth re-watching.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+Skip's getting dismembered with a buzz-saw in the basement. Nice.
+The order in which Team Angel fall to their knees is pretty interesting. Lorne drops down pretty much straight away. Fred quickly follows. Gunn takes a little longer, and Wesley remains standing until after Jasmine's spoken.
+Angel wearing a horrible sunny-yellow shirt while he's feeling all loved-up under Jasmine's influence. Notice also that he changes into a grey shirt after he's shot by Fred's crossbow.
+Jasmine telling Wesley and Gunn that loving the same woman should bring them closer together. It kind of makes sense in a twisted way, but would just never happen.
+An old-fashioned, credits-style, tableau of the boys heading out to fight some bad guys. It's a shame Fred's not part of it, though - apparently she's too busy doing Jasmine's laundry.
+Connor doing a cool, Buffyesque stake-twirl after he kills a vamp. Although I think he actually kills it by breaking its neck, which is weird.
+Lorne making a reference to his 'decapitation loophole' - it's been a while since that was mentioned.
  
-Why do Wesley and Gunn come running into the lobby when Angel gets back? Are they meant to have heard him returning? Weren't they in the basement, with the door closed, with a buzz-saw running?
-The vampire that bumps into Jasmine and knocks over John apparently has claws, which leave a huge, gaping wound in Jasmine's arm when he accidentally bumps into her, and pierce John's skin when he lands on him. If vampire fingernails are so sharp that they can wound people without even trying, then I can't believe Angel would ever have been able to cuddle baby Connor.
-Why doesn't Jasmine's power work on the vamps at the bowling alley? We know it works on Angel and Lorne, so why not on the other vamps and demons? I guess there's some explanation involving souls, but we're never given it.
-Fred's crying over the shirt is really bad. I know it's meant to be funny, but it just seems completely fake and is indistinguishable from the actual fake-crying she does later in Jasmine's room.
-It's probably slightly unfair to list this as a con, but I would have liked to have seen Fred at least try to call her parents at some point. They really play up the fact that Fred's all alone in the world, but we know that she's just about the only character that has nice, normal parents back home.
Foreshadowing
  • Jasmine says "I will be with you, everywhere you go... guiding your hands... giving you strength." This takes on greater meaning in the following episodes, when Jasmine's growing power actually allows her to see and act through her followers.
  • Fred says "I'm sorry," aims a crossbow at Jasmine, and fires - only to hit Angel instead. In the next episode, she'll say "I'm sorry" again, before deliberately aiming a gun at Angel.
65/100C
N/A

DEPTH
N/A

EMOTION
N/A

CHARACTER
N/A

PLOT
Quotes
FRED:Drop it, Junior!
LORNE:Fred, don't get too close!
CONNOR:Drop it?
FRED:You heard me. Drop the knife.
CONNOR:But... you're always after me to clean up after myself. I was just going to put it away.
FRED:Uh... are you still evil-ish? Cos I'm confused.

GUNN:OK, so what are we dealing with?
FRED:Eight legs, three heads, horns?
LORNE:Hey!
FRED:No offence.
CONNOR:Two legs. One head. No horns.
LORNE:Let me guess. Green?
ANGEL:No. Kind of... mocha.

CONNOR:She's amazing. You'll go nuts.
GUNN:Yeah, that'll definitely help us relate better.

LORNE:My God!
JASMINE:People keep saying that.

GUNN (TO JASMINE):You're a power that... was?

JASMINE:No one born to this earth can choose their own name. They're named by those who love them. There are some rules even I must follow.

WESLEY:What about -
FRED:Clorox!
GUNN:Clorox. She bleaches away the hate.
WESLEY:Probably best we avoid brand names.
GUNN:Uh-huh.

ANGEL:I know what you're thinking
FRED:You do?
ANGEL:Sometimes, when I look in her eyes, I've seen it too. It's overwhelming. The lies, the deceit... it just melts away. Nothing left but the beauty.


Comments (32)
All Comments | Link1 | fray-adjacentSep 29, 2011 @ 8:25am
Great review, Alex! I agree with all your criticisms of the Jasmine arc. Actually, the arc bothers me quite a bit more than perhaps it bothers you. Skip's claim in "Inside Out" that many (all?) of the major choices the characters had made since, like, Season 1 were part of Jasmine's devious scheme just really taints the whole arc for me. Thankfully they don't really mention that again to my memory, including in this episode.

I like your point about Angel's relief at being free of moral grayness and how it ties into season 5. (Though I'd say that all the characters have had to make some pretty tough choices, that wasn't just Angel's burden to bear.) In fact, I think he decided to go out with a bang in the series finale partly so that "constant questioning" *would* finally, really, be over.
All Comments | Link2 | AlexSep 29, 2011 @ 8:47am
Thanks, Fray! I had a great time writing it.

You're right, the Jasmine arc doesn't bother me as much as it does some people. I'm perhaps one of the few who's glad that it happened, because I think it throws up some interesting questions. I was going to talk about that more in my review, but decided it was less appropriate for this particular episode and more suited to a general Season 4 review.

The reason I like the Jasmine arc is mostly because, as Patrick's said in his next review, I think 'Angel vs. World Peace' was an amazing, really brave direction for the show to go in. But unfortunately I don't think it was ever really explored in enough detail. I would have liked to have seen a case for why they maybe *shouldn't* have stopped Jasmine (although, of course, it was always going to be obvious that she needed to be stopped in the end). If we'd had more time, I think we could have had some really interesting scenes which could have gone beyond funny Beach Boys montages.

To pluck a random example out of thin air, what if we'd got to see Anne and the street kids again? What if the gang had seen all those kids, free from all the troubles that had plagued them their whole lives? And then they'd have to make the choice to stop Jasmine, knowing that they were sending those kids back to poverty, drugs, prostitution... Of course, 'the price was too high' would always win out in the end, but the question seemed to be answered way too easily because 'Jasmine was eating people'. Jasmine's comment that she 'murdered thousands to save billions' is the only time that this tricky area is really even brought up.

Whoops, I got a bit sidetracked there, sorry. I couldn't agree more with you about Skip's comments in 'Inside Out'. I do like the explanation that Connor was born because Angel had won Darla an extra life. But there's really no reason why they needed to suggest that anything else had anything to do with Jasmine. Thankfully, as you say, this never really came up again (at least not quite so explicitly).

And of course you're right that all the characters have had some tough decisions to make. I still think that Angel's the most tired of it, though, and the most disillusioned - probably not least because he's the oldest of the lot and has been dealing with it all for so much longer.
All Comments | Link3 | JMKSep 29, 2011 @ 9:11pm
I honestly felt like Season 4 was kind of a mess. The writers seemed to jump from episode to episode, as if they were lost. Lost in terms of what to do with main characters (Cordelia's arc with connor was just eck and unnecessary), and overall the direction that ATS was going in. The Beast arc had me intrigued, up until the point that they wasted Angelus and starting saying " Beastmaster". That's when I pretty much laughed my ass off.

However, I will say that I enjoyed the dynamic btw Faith and Angel, the fight scenes in "Apocalypse Nowish" and the Angelus-Faith arc, in addition to all things Wesley and the episode "Home". Those highlights alone, made season 4 worth the watch.


As for the 'Jasmine' arc, I thought it was rather brilliant that Angel had to end world peace. But I felt that it would have been better if all of the PTB were involved with the "Shinyocalypse". It would have been interesting to discover that the Powers that Be are merely self-interested beings, like the Senior Partners, who are seeking to use Angel for their own purposes.

Like one of the main themes in the latter seasons of 'Angel'is free will. Imagine if that actually properly linked the series of events ( The Tro-clon or whatever), and then revealed that they were not necessarily puppets, but that the decisions they made played into the hands of Jasmine. That would have made more sense and been more interesting, because the choices they made (whether influenced by Jasmine or not) directly lead to their current predicament. Just a thought haha.
All Comments | Link4 | buffyholicSep 30, 2011 @ 6:56am
Nice work, Alex. I like the idea of Jasmine but the execution leaves much to be desired. I also agree that Connor´s part is inconsistent.
All Comments | Link5 | fray-adjacentSep 30, 2011 @ 6:58pm
Yes, to second Buffyholic, you make great points about Connor. I actually just got to this episode today and I totally agree with you about that. (As well as most everything else you say.)

As far as the Jasmine arc, I agree it would have been a lot better if they'd made it more morally gray, which would have also made Lilah offering W&H to Angel at the end of the arc a lot less bizarre. But I still think I wouldn't totally buy it, because the way it poses freedom and peace as being in opposition just really irks me. It reminds me of Cold War era Star Trek episodes.

I also like the explanation of Connor's birth. And I'm actually OK with Cordy's ascension being part of Jasmine's plot, except for that it ruins Skip, who I loved in "That Vision Thing".
All Comments | Link6 | AlexOct 1, 2011 @ 8:32am
JMK - Season 4 is definitely a mess. My next review will be 'Apolcalypse, Nowish', and after re-watching that I kind of get the feeling that they hadn't got a clue where they were going to go with it at that point. When Jasmine appears she bears no resemblance to the 'possessed' Cordelia, who mostly acts like a bad James Bond villain (and oh my goodness, the terrible floating head in 'Orpheus'). And a lot of Cordelia's behaviour while she's possessed makes no sense when you try to connect it to Jasmine - for example, why did she kill Lilah? Your suggestions for improving the season are interesting, though. The Powers That Be were always a bit hazy and only ever seemed to get mentioned when it was convenient for the story, so I'm not sure that having them behind the Shinyocalpyse (great new word, by the way!) would really have worked for me. But I agree that it would be much more interesting if they hadn't gone down the 'everything was pre-ordained' route that they did.

Buffyholic, Fray. I'm glad you agree with me about Connor. I was kind of half expecting someone to come along and tell me I was totally wrong and that it's completely obvious that he's not bewitched like the others! It's really frustrating, because if the writers just wanted to keep Connor's immunity a secret then he didn't even need to be in the room when Fred first sees Jasmine's real face. None of it really makes sense. I think there are lot of better ways they could have gone with Connor choosing to stick with Jasmine. I think it would have made more sense if he *was* affected by Jasmine at first, but it somehow wore off and he chose to keep 'believing' so that he wouldn't have to be alone.

Fray, I'm actually not so bothered about Cordelia's ascension being part of Jasmine's plan - it didn't really make that much sense on its own, so tying it in to a greater plan kind of works. But I think Skip claims that Jasmine influenced pretty much everything else, too. I haven't seen the scene for a while so I can't remember it word-for-word, but I believe he claims that Jasmine also orchestrated Lorne and Fred leaving/entering Pylea, Gunn's sister dying and, most ridiculous of all, Wesley sleeping with Lilah. And, well, that's just silly.
All Comments | Link7 | fray-adjacentOct 3, 2011 @ 8:49pm
Alex, yes, Skip does attribute many important choices to Jasmine, which I find not just silly but pretty maddening. I mean, what is a Mutant Enemy show without complex characters who make choices because, at least to some extent, they *can*, and aren't just puppets in a pre-ordained production?
All Comments | Link8 | JMKOct 8, 2011 @ 12:32pm
@Alex: I couldn't agree with you more on the ridiculousness of tying everything to Jasmine. As I stated earlier, it seems more likely that Jasmine just took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. As for Cordelia's ridiculous "ascension", I will repeat what my dad said when he watched it (he used to watch with me hella long ago)...WTF. Haha,the one trait that annoyed me about Cordelia, is her tendency to just trust people right away. Its a wonder she wasn't killed off earlier (woulda been better than her treatment in Season 4).

And on the subject of Connor. I honestly could have done without his presence on the show(I cheered for Angel to kill him in "Home"). Furthermore, I agree with your point about the PTB being rather hazy and used as convenient plot devices. Sigh, so many unexplored plot points and missed opportunities!
All Comments | Link9 | OzzieOct 10, 2011 @ 5:47am
Excellent Review Alexandra .. I never really liked the the whole Jasmine Arc and this episode and the others after were really hard to watch in my opinion.. and to learn that Cordy has been "Evil for practically the whole season just tears me inside, its Cordy died at the end of Season 3 ,, she should never of been sent to that Higher Place.. i would of much preferred the whole Jasmine Story line cut as it in my opinion ruined the darkness of Season 4 all the episodes up to this were very dark, intense and exciting to watch as the Beast and whole Apocalypse story was well filmed
All Comments | Link10 | AlexOct 10, 2011 @ 6:59am
Thank you, Ozzie! It's always nice to hear positive feedback on something you've written.

Yes, I totally agree re. Cordelia. I had a much longer rant about Cordelia in my first draft of this review, but I ended up cutting most of it out because it wasn't really relevant.

I really feel like Charisma's pregnancy was driving this whole mess of a season and it's extremely frustrating. To me, Cordelia looks pregnant right from the beginning of the season. They even make a joke out of it in 'Spin The Bottle' where she says something about how she's 'filled out even more'. And she really had - there's a distracting amount of cleavage on show in some of the early episodes! So by the time the pregnancy was actually explained we'd all got used to a slightly heavier-looking Cordy anyway. I find it almost insulting that they felt that we'd need Cordelia to get pregnant at some point in the story to explain the baby bump that she'd had for a while. I would have much preferred it if they'd just continued to ignore it. Not to mention the fact that it doesn't make any sense anyway, because from her 'baby bump' she gives birth to a fully-grown Cuban woman! The more I think about it, the angrier I get!

I'm actually reviewing 'Apolocalypse, Nowish' next, which is the first episode where we see the Jasmine-possessed Cordelia (well, apart from about 30 seconds at the end of 'Spin the Bottle')and I'm finding it really difficult. I want to analyse Cordelia's actions and interractions but I just end up thinking 'oh but it's actually Jasmine, so I don't really care'. Once that review goes up (hopefully in the next week or so) then I'll be really interested to hear what other people think!
All Comments | Link11 | fray-adjacentOct 10, 2011 @ 1:59pm
Alex, I think it's actually ambiguous to what extent we are seeing Cordy and to what extent we are seeing Jasmine in those first few episodes after "Spin the Bottle." Jasmine is definitely influencing her right from the start but it's unclear as to how much.

For example, at the end of StB, it really genuinely seems that Cordy's reaction to the vision of the Beast was one of fear. Why would that be the case if she already knew she was the Beastmaster? It's plausible that all that was made up, that she was pretending to be afraid, but it's also plausible that Jasmine was just influencing Cordy's emotions just enough so that she'd sleep with Connor. It actually kind of seems like Jasmine's influence grows gradually in those episodes, till we get to "Calvary" and there is clearly no more Cordy. In that case, it's still reasonable to at least speculate on Cordy's motivations and choices in "Apocalypse, Nowish". (And I very much look forward to your review, by the way!)
All Comments | Link12 | AlexOct 11, 2011 @ 3:00am
You're right, Fray. I think we do need to look at Cordy both as herself and as Jasmine to some extent in those earlier episodes. I'm trying to do that as much as possible, but it's pretty tough and it goes back to the whole 'season 4 is a mess' thing!

They never really explain what happened or at what point she went from Cordy to Jasmine. I do think, though, that by the end of the season, and also when Cordy comes back in Season 5, Cordy's possession is discussed as if it was Jasmine right from the start (for example, the fact that she slept with Connor is completely brushed aside in 'You're Welcome). But I don't think that's how it's initially written. I get the impression the writers hadn't got a completely clear picture of what was going to happen at the point when they were writing 'Apocalypse, Nowish', so we end up with someone who may or may not be Cordy, doing and saying some sort-of-OOC-but-not-really things. So it's still worth asking ourselves what various things mean if it's actually Cordy doing them. I won't say too much more though because otherwise there'll be no point in anyone reading my actual review!
All Comments | Link13 | nathan.taurusOct 15, 2011 @ 2:11am
Useless tid-bit: The actor playing John is Sam Witwer who would go on to be in other fantasy series' such as 'Dark Angel', 'Star Trek:Enterprise', 'Battlestar Galactica', 'Smallville' and is currentley on the U.S version of 'Being Human'.

Anyway, good review. The Jasmine arc is a bit hit and miss and I cannot see her as the thing that possessed Cordelia as they are totally different......even though she was. "BtVS" had Glory and "Angel" has Jasmine.

Funny to see Mal and Zoe off cancelled "Firefly" playing the villains for the final 4-5 episodes.
All Comments | Link14 | KeatonOct 17, 2011 @ 6:40am
Great review, Alex, I really enjoyed to read it.

Some spoilers for me, ok, but I have to admit that I'm not emotionally involved enough to really care anymore. Sometimes reading the reviews is more fun than watching the show now, so I'm fine with the foreshadowing.

I'm not quite sure if I understood Jasmine's plan btw, what a confusing, complicated mess. If you are right then Skip's revelations about everything being set up by Jasmine from season one on are bogus (I wouldn't have believed it anyway but thanks for reassuring).
For example I have trouble to understand why Connor was needed. His birth was just a miracle before, now we learn that Jasmine set it up to create the father for her earthly incarnation. Doesn't fit to how the trial in S02 worked out (complete fail, except the "dungeon master" was in the loop) so I guess the writers just made up that connection when they wrote this episode here. In "The Trial" there was no talk about sending "Angel and Darla into the trials to earn a new chance at live", that's just screwing with semantics to puff up the story even more. ^^
But Jasmine didn't need those trials to work that miracle so it's okay. She just did it somehow and then she brought her father Connor and her mother (actually herself possessing Cordy ... yuck!) together so they would create her.
But why does she even need that child of two vampires as a father? Because he is a miracle and she needs a miracle to enter this world? Hope there will be some more clarification in the next episodes because this explanation sucks.
And why did she even need a possessed Cordy? Can't there just be some kind of portal opening or ugly ritual as usual? Is it really that complicated with higher powers?
But you already wrote it, they tried to explain Charisma's baby bump but it led to a mess.
Finally I have to say that (although I liked him until recently) now I really hate that little fool. The way he turned away from Darla in the last episode and assisted murdering that girl was not plausible for me, possessed Cordy didn't say anything convincing enough to trick him into doing that. In fact her whole "we're speacial" speach was half-hearted and should have made him suspicious if he wasn't such a pr***.

Well, still nice to see Zoe Washburne again. :)
And Jasmine at least seems to be an interesting villain, no matter how badly she was introduced.
All Comments | Link15 | AlexOct 17, 2011 @ 7:12am
Glad you enjoyed the review, Keaton. As for getting more explanation in the next episodes... don't hold your breath.

I agree that Jasmine could easily have appeared, and been just as effective, without all the Cordelia/Connor nonsense beforehand. It's extremely badly thought out. I wish more shows would realise that pregnant actresses don't have to mean pregnant characters! I think HIMYM did a great job with that, when Alyson Hannigan and Coby Smulders were both pregnant. Admittedly it's a comedy so it's much easier to make jokes about that kind of thing, but I liked the way they mostly just ignored the fact that the ladies were pregnant, and occasionally threw in the odd joke about how they were getting a bit fat.
All Comments | Link16 | SueBDec 24, 2011 @ 9:18pm
- QUOTE -
We do see a slightly troubled Connor telling Jasmine that he doesn't deserve to be so happy, but as far as I can tell there are no hints that he's got any doubts about Jasmine herself. For example, during the scene where Fred sees Jasmine's 'real' face, she's seeing what Connor's apparently been seeing the entire time. Connor is watching Fred's odd behaviour, and I feel that surely there should be some tiny flicker of understanding in his face - something which you'd miss on a first viewing, perhaps, but which you might spot on a re-watch. But there's nothing. This all makes me think that the writers still hadn't quite decided where the Connor part of the story was going to go, even while writing this, the 18th episode of the season.

Realistically, I think you are probably right that they were not quite sure the impact Jasmine was having on Connor and his actions don't give anything away in this episode. If they were planning on this the whole time, it would be nice to know if they told Vincent Kartheiser this or just had him play it one way and then changed it latter

But this bothered me a lot so I spent time on this and "Magic Bullet" to look for clues. Perhaps it's a fanwank but I can see a few tiny "tells" that offer a potential alternative to "they made it up as they went along".

First, I think there is evidence that Connor definitely felt something from Jasmine. He clearly could access the link with her ("the happiest people in the world") and showed signs of bliss when no one was looking. But he was always aware that this was an effect she was producing. And it didn't make his personal pain go away. In this case I think he was playing along hoping he would eventually "feel the complete bliss". I think his blood prevented him from being fooled by the glamor but he sensed the bliss -- it just wasn't all encompassing like the others.

Second, there were a few small tells in SHP. I did note upon a fourth re-watch that he asked what was wrong with that man (Sam Witwer). He also was looking down when the others were staring at her a few times. He nodded and could potentially be interpreted as slightly relieved when Jasmine said they would try to recover vice kill Fred. I got the impression he was constantly watching Jasmine to see what her reach was. He is the one who asks "why" on more than one occasion.

Third. I think he didn't realize Fred saw Jasmine's real face when she first reacted. Like Angel he acted like she was just yammering-Fred.

Fourth, when all of Team Angel is on-board with Jasmine's plan Connor DOES feel like he's part of something. He's still isolated by his blood but he's not fighting. I think he is just "going with the flow" (as he said in Peace Out) because he so desperately wants to be happy.

Finally, in SHP Jasmine's control is just starting and Connor sees it growing. I don't believe it's until Sacrifice that he realizes he is never going to get to the level of bliss that the others achieve,

Having said all this, if I had to go back and watch it 4 times and work so hard to see these "tells" then they are too subtle to definitively be planned. So I can see both sides of the argument regarding what is considered the major logic fail of SHP.
All Comments | Link17 | peterMar 19, 2012 @ 3:47pm
Overall i like season 4 yes they are parts that are a mess and like others are pointed out the way possessed Cordy is then when Jasmine appears is like a complete 180 in terms of personality, I Like the idea of darla being pregnant was put down to Jasmine that was cool but everything else liked to fred and pylea and lorne and gunn's sister was just random. It doesnt make sense Jasmine made those things happen its not like those events changed her plans much.
My only problem is i might be the only one but I don't Understand why conner had to be created to be jasmines father when skip says conner was designed as a impossible birth but then angel buts in says Conner was meant to act as a vessel but jasmine woludnt last inside conner so when did jasmine get inside cordy ? did she get inside conner then when him and cordy went at it did she trasfer to Cordy I don;t think it is ever explained which is a pain otherwise i like season 4
All Comments | Link18 | AlexMar 21, 2012 @ 9:45am
Peter, I generally feel like it's pointless to try and make sense of a lot of Season Four, since it feels very disjointed and pretty much made up on the spot. However, I think the idea is that Jasmine was possessing Cordelia right from the end of Spin the Bottle, but she needed Connor to be her father in order for her to get her own physical body and escape from Cordelia's. For reasons I don't really understand, she needed a miracle child such as Connor to bring about her own 'birth'.

In fact, I think Jasmine was possessing Cordelia as soon as she returned from the higher plane, but that the PtB's memory-block-thingy was suppressing Jasmine until Lorne's spell removed it.

None of it really makes sense to me, but perhaps someone else understands it better. I never understood how the whole Jasmine thing was supposed to explain Cordelia's baby bump, either, since she clearly doesn't have an actual baby growing in her womb - or does she? And in that case, how does she end up giving birth to a full grown woman? Oh, I give up.
All Comments | Link19 | XavierJun 14, 2012 @ 8:42pm
I just thought of something: If Jasmine manipulated all the events to allow her to be "born", then that means she has been manipulating Angel since the 1770's! Sahjhan was the reason why Holtz was brought back to the present, who later on, kidnapped Connor, who had aged to be an 18 yr old guy, now able to father a child. If Sahjhan sent Holtz to Los Angeles, then Connor would have still been a baby! And thus, Jasmine would have never came about. Hmmm, though I doubt Jasmine was able to manipulate Sahjhan into sending Holtz to the 21st century. The Jasmine storyline was, indeed, flawed.
All Comments | Link20 | XavierJun 14, 2012 @ 8:43pm
*now able to physically father a child. If Sahjhan NEVER sent Holtz to Los Angeles
All Comments | Link21 | DaveNov 12, 2012 @ 10:19am
Gina Torres really is an incredible presence. Even i was sucked into her pure and utter charisma.
All Comments | Link22 | FirewalkwithmeNov 9, 2013 @ 12:34pm
I just watched this episode again and man was it hard to sit through this plot-heavy set-up for this lackluster mini-arc.
I especially want to mention one bad moment of exposition at the start of the episode where Lorne seems to have no idea where Angel went just so that Fred can explain to the audience that Angel went off last week to kill Cordy. Simply Terrible writing!

FRED
God, why'd it have to be her?

LORNE
I think you skipped a groove, darlin'.

FRED
Cordelia. Why couldn't the Beastmaster have chosen some horrible evil awful person to be its vessel?

LORNE
Wouldn't have been much in the way of camouflage.

FRED
He's been gone so long.

LORNE
Y-you shifted gender pronouns, sweetheart. Not that I'm judging—

FRED
Angel. Do you think he found them?

LORNE
Them being...?

FRED
Connor and Cordy.

LORNE
Well...uh....

FRED
Or maybe he got there too late, and she already had it?

LORNE
And by "it," you must mean—?

FRED
The baby. Or, hell spawn or whatever it is. (Lorne shakes his head and sips his drink) Skip said the Beastmaster was using Cordelia to give birth to itself. What if Angel didn't get there in time to stop it? Or, worse, what if he did get there in time? Do you think he'd actually...you know?

LORNE
Dismember mama? (chuckles nervously)

FRED
Would Angel really kill Cordelia?

LORNE
To save the world?
All Comments | Link23 | FirewalkwithmeNov 9, 2013 @ 12:34pm
I just watched this episode again and man was it hard to sit through this plot-heavy set-up for this lackluster mini-arc.
I especially want to mention one bad moment of exposition at the start of the episode where Lorne seems to have no idea where Angel went just so that Fred can explain to the audience that Angel went off last week to kill Cordy. Simply Terrible writing!

FRED
God, why'd it have to be her?

LORNE
I think you skipped a groove, darlin'.

FRED
Cordelia. Why couldn't the Beastmaster have chosen some horrible evil awful person to be its vessel?

LORNE
Wouldn't have been much in the way of camouflage.

FRED
He's been gone so long.

LORNE
Y-you shifted gender pronouns, sweetheart. Not that I'm judging—

FRED
Angel. Do you think he found them?

LORNE
Them being...?

FRED
Connor and Cordy.

LORNE
Well...uh....

FRED
Or maybe he got there too late, and she already had it?

LORNE
And by "it," you must mean—?

FRED
The baby. Or, hell spawn or whatever it is. (Lorne shakes his head and sips his drink) Skip said the Beastmaster was using Cordelia to give birth to itself. What if Angel didn't get there in time to stop it? Or, worse, what if he did get there in time? Do you think he'd actually...you know?

LORNE
Dismember mama? (chuckles nervously)

FRED
Would Angel really kill Cordelia?

LORNE
To save the world?
All Comments | Link24 | Nebula NoxDec 9, 2013 @ 4:00pm
the title was fun - a nod to the word shiny used so often in firefly
All Comments | Link25 | EdwardHJan 27, 2014 @ 5:16am
It seemed like an unkillable beast would have been a good enough villain without squeezing in Jasmine in the last few episodes. It really seems that the Jasmine mini-arc really disrupts the season.
All Comments | Link26 | MbJan 27, 2014 @ 9:48am
I completely agree that Cordelia's behavior when "possessed" is not at all in line with jasmine's personality, with or without her masking enchantment. Possessed-Cordelia, when speaking to the gang after her reveal at the end of "players" and the start of "indside out", doesn't sound like the way jasmine speaks when she is unmasked later on--more like, well, an evil, catty Cordelia. I also have a problem with it showing Cordelia suddenly but slowly recalling the beast meeting angelus in the past and dreaming of the beast and being terrified, when she supposedly knows all and is controlling it.

Another major question I have is: what exactly is the point of the beast? That is, how does he factor into jasmines scheme? How does the reign of fire and the sun-block pave the way for her? If angelus hadn't killed him, what would have been his place once jasmine was born? This giant horned demon would have been quite at odds with the paradise she was at the center of. And would the sun have continued to be blocked out when she arrived? Just seems very poor planning to me, for the sake of writing some mini-arcs like the beast and the sun-block.
All Comments | Link27 | SeeleJan 27, 2014 @ 1:06pm
Replying to Mb (#26)
Second question: Maybe she was planning on betraying the Beast: secretly using him to set an Apocalypse in motion, then publicly killing him so that she could take the credit for preventing it?

"Jasmine slew a demon and created a Paradise out of an apocalyptic H***hole" would certainly sound cooler to her than "Jasmine created a Paradise out of a normal world, coincidentally not long after some unknown warrior(s) slew a demon and stopped an apocalypse in a near-simultaneous yet probably unrelated incident."

First question: I have no idea. :(
All Comments | Link28 | AlexFeb 10, 2014 @ 6:16am
Replying to Seele (#27)
That's a really nice theory, Seele. I like the idea of Jasmine engineering all the apocalyptic stuff so that she can be the one to save the world from it. She would definitely enjoy being known as Jasmine the Beast-slayer. I don't think for a moment that the writers were aiming for that explanation - I agree that it's just poor planning and follow-through - but it would have made a nice explanation for something which currently makes absolutely no sense!

And Mb, Cordelia's behaviour while possessed is probably my biggest problem with this whole plot line. Well, I have a LOT of big problems with it and it's hard to pick just one, but that's definitely up there! If I somehow had to re-write the season so that this part made sense, then I'd probably make Cordelia some kind of lowly minion of Jasmine's who's working to bring her forth, because the suggestion that Possessed Cordy and Jasmine are one and the same is just impossible to figure out.
All Comments | Link29 | guttersnipeJan 30, 2015 @ 11:22am
Replying to Mb (#26)
I've just been pondering the same thing. Though I really like the fact that Angelus killed the Beast as it reaffirms his appetite for destruction and his disinclination to follow anyone's orders (consider his insubordination towards The Master in "Darla"), had the sun returned alongside Jasmine's birth I feel it would work as a visual signifier of new hope, kinda like The Rapture. Had the Beast survived, perhaps it would have benefitted from Jasmine's mind control and been perceived as a beautiful seraphim. If not, I like Seele's notion that her arrival might destroy the Beast and acquire AI as her new champions.
All Comments | Link30 | ppaulaFeb 17, 2016 @ 1:39pm
Really great review!!!
I agree with the fact that Fred knows better than shooting Jasmine in a room full of people eho would die for her, even just plainly running would have been better!

Angel's yellow shirt will haunt me forever tho
All Comments | Link31 | TheDoThatGirlJun 28, 2016 @ 2:20pm
Well, on noting what happened to John, I think that her touch does that to the people who are infected with her blood. Doubtful it could do that to vampires as they're already dead, or Conner or Cordelia. I find it interesting that once her spell was broken after Angel brought her true name, her face was reminiscent of what she did to John.
All Comments | Link32 | TheDoThatGirlJun 28, 2016 @ 2:24pm
Plus, I think seeing everyone around him bowing to Miss Maggot Face while only he can see the real her, there might have been a "called" feeling since he was never glamoured like the rest of the populous. Once the spell was broken for everyone else, they all just felt betrayed, horrified and lost from their giggly joy. John never got to experience that, so he just saw a maggoty mess hypnotizing people. But, either way, we'll never know.
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