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4x21: "Peace Out"
Review by Ben
Posted on December 1, 2011
Writer: David Fury | Director: Jefferson Kibee | Air Date: 04/30/2003

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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

What compels people to do the things they do? Is it destiny? Free will? And at what cost? These are the questions that haunt every character throughout Season 4 and they all come to a head in "Peace Out" [4x21]. With "Home" [4x22] being much like an epilogue or a bookend to the season, "Peace Out" [4x21] has the job of effectively wrapping up all the major stories and themes, which it does remarkably well, but not without some problems.

The heart of this piece is Connor, who is possibly the most divisive character in the entire series. Personally, I love Connor and this episode is a marvelous showcase for him and possibly one of the most tragic episodes of the series because of him. Connor is the perfect summation of the concept of free will versus fate. Here, Connor chooses fate because he can't deal with the difficult truths in his life. Over and over again, Connor has been fed lie upon lie and has jumped from so many different people. While this may not seem like a truly awful thing at first glance, it is because of this that he does not have any true connections to people.

Connor was torn away from his first family by Holtz in "Sleep Tight" [3x16]. Worse still, he was taught by Holtz to not trust Angel, his own father, and so he will always be cut off from him in some way. Then, he is ripped away from Holtz, his second family, in "Benediction" [3x21], and Angel tries to ruin his memories of Holtz and convince him that Holtz was a bad man. In addition to this, Holtz used Connor to get back at Angel, thus making him even more cut off from people. After he sent Angel to the bottom of the ocean, however, he finds a third family in Gunn and Fred and he is yet again ripped away from them, this time by Angel. He is literally kicked out of his family by Angel and left to wander the streets. Angel, his only living blood family, leaves him to fend for himself on the streets of L.A. This is how Connor begins to perceive what people usually do and how families act towards one another, which motivates all his actions all the way up to "Home" [4x22].

Connor's desire for a family is what leads him to where he is now. He has lost everything and has no connections to the world so the one thing he hangs onto is the only person who he believes truly cared for him: Cordelia. With Cordelia and Jasmine, he feels like he finally belongs in the world because he is accepted into her inner circle. Jasmine even says to him, "Your devotion and sacrifice has made a difference." Jasmine makes him feel like he is important and has made a difference, which is the opposite of what his previous families have been like. While we never saw him in Quor'toth, we know that Holtz was never so kind and caring to him. He gave him tests and made him fight for his life on a daily basis. Angel treated him like a little child who didn't know anything and he eventually even kicked Connor out onto the streets. Connor holds onto Jasmine because he thinks she would never dream of doing that to him.

Connor's connection to Jasmine all comes back to the loss Connor has been through and his desire to just be happy. It's all Connor wants. To be part of a family; to feel appreciated; to live a happy, normal life. These are all things that he feels Angel and company have denied him. In a chilling moment, Connor screams at Wesley, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne for fighting back against Jasmine. He thinks they are less interested in saving the world and more interested in feeling like they are making a difference. Connor points out the fact that they are trying to save the world and look, someone's gone and done it, but they keep fighting because it's all they know how to do. He finally lays it into them when he explains, "You're all alone now…all of you. You're the ones left out in the cold. You don't belong." This statement is both a powerful reflection on Connor's views on the world and also perhaps a true statement about Angel and company. Angel Investigations was created by people who were alone in the world and were just trying to make a connection. Going back to that in Jasmine's utopia is an absolute nightmare for all of them. Once again, they are left in the cold. For Connor, this is also a very significant comment because it quickly summarizes his motivation. He finally feels free and at home, and when Angel Investigations tries to ruin that for him, just as they have done time and time again in his mind, all he wants is revenge. He wants them to feel how he feels: alone. It's a great scene and a strangely affecting one, too.

The fight scene at the beginning of the episode is also very exciting and well done, although it is far too short. It feels like it is rushed due to time constraints and just a way to get from point A to point B when it could be done in a much more interesting and meaningful way. But the small part of the fight we get is very exciting, tense, and chaotic, just as it should be. I really like Connor's line that now he "has no choice but to kill you" because it shows that he is really giving himself up to Jasmine and he is clearly letting himself be a puppet. He has convinced himself that Wesley, Gunn, Fred, and Lorne are spouting lies when it is very clearly Jasmine who is the liar. Connor doesn't want to see her lies, though -- she's easier.

The most interesting part of Connor's journey throughout the episode, however, is definitely his fall from Jasmine's grace. The first thing that makes Connor question his place in Jasmine's family is her not allowing him to destroy the family that ultimately rejected him, which I find very interesting and ironic. He tries killing Wesley and Jasmine tells him to stop, which is the first decision she makes that Connor questions. His desire for revenge, to feel validated in his feelings of comfort, is so strong that it makes him turn against Jasmine, even if only for a moment.

It goes farther when he is kept away from one of the only people who have made him feel like a person that matters. While it's true that Connor was never really connected to Cordelia, since she has been possessed the whole time, the only thing that matters is that Connor thinks he is. The Cordelia that Connor cares about and the Jasmine that has been feeding him lies are really just one in the same but Connor doesn't realize that, so he wants to see Cordelia badly. He wants his family to be whole again: Connor and Cordelia as the caring parents to Jasmine, their beautiful child. Jasmine refuses to tell Connor where Cordelia is, though, let alone letting him see her. To Connor, this is unacceptable. In a way, Jasmine is attempting to destroy Connor's new family by shutting him out from Cordelia. Due to this, Connor begins to accept that the lies are everywhere and that there truly is no escape from them. To be free from the pain, you have to be dead.

While the concept is beautiful and the downfall of Connor is truly heartbreaking and intriguing, the actual execution of it all ends up being a tad clunky in the first half of the episode. Jasmine's scenes with Connor end up being a bit too talky and a lot of the tension just disappears during them. Some of that might be attributed to Vincent Kartheiser's lack of chemistry with Gina Torres, because this story works perfectly in every scene where Kartheiser and Torres don't work together. Both do exceptional work on their own, but together it just falls flat.

I can excuse most of this, though, because there are only a few scenes that feel like this and there are so many other great scenes throughout the episode. For example, the scene where Connor confronts the men who have transported Cordelia is really great and a wonderful example of how dark this kid really is. He really flips out on the men and smiles as he does it. Connor is really breaking down now and his line, "So tell me and I'll crush your windpipe," is telling.

This all leads to the mesmerizing scene in the cathedral, which is one of my favorites of not just the season, but also of the entire series. Connor's monologue over Cordelia's comatose body is beautifully written and acted to perfection by Kartheiser. I know people give him a lot of grief over his performance on Angel, but this scene is just remarkable and a true triumph. It also outlines Connor's entire journey through the series and helps the viewer sympathize with him. Throughout the series, Connor has always been kind of an annoying kid who just gets in the way and doesn't understand the world around him. But sometimes, we fail to realize why he is the way he is and this scene does just that. Also, there's Connor throwing the guards through the cathedral doors. That's always fun.

Like I mentioned before, Connor doesn't understand that Cordelia has really just been one in the same with Jasmine. Connor wants to live in this great new world with his family, with Cordelia, but Jasmine's very existence destroyed the possibility of living a happy life with Cordelia because Cordelia is Jasmine. This is a very important point that Connor's monologue makes clear. Jasmine's manipulation of Connor makes it impossible for him to live the life he wanted. As much as he wants to believe her, he can't because she has, just like everyone else, taken away the people he has considered family.

The other very significant portion of his monologue is in direct contrast to Angel's speech in "Epiphany" [2x16]. Angel fights because there is nothing else he can do, but Connor doesn't see the point in that. Connor is tired of the endless fighting, never-ending pain, and torment that comes hand-in-hand with the endless fight. Connor sees Jasmine as an easy way out and a way to just make the pain stop. He wants to "stop fighting" and he then goes on to say, "I just wanna rest." At this very moment, Connor is done with the world and its problems. He wants to be purged of all his hate and anger, just like the rest of humanity, but he can't. Where Angel fights in order to save souls, Connor lays his sword down and gives up. He really loses all hope here and he finally recognizes that his entire life has been built upon countless layers of lies. Connor understands this, and his recognition of that is so devastating to watch. His last line during that scene gets me every time because of how heartbreaking it is. In reference to Jasmine's lies, he says, "I guess I thought this one was better than the others."

Angel's story throughout the episode, in the alternate world, is a bit more problematic in some ways, yet still also interesting in others. The CGI effects used to create this alternate world are pretty awful and cause its scope to end up being rather narrow. Usually, I wouldn't focus on special effects, but it does kind of limit the universe they are trying to create to just one room in an old temple. This is a minor quibble, though, so I'll move on.

Angel comes across the Guardian of the Word and the Keeper of the Name, the former of which is tiny and somewhat annoying, the latter of which is downright terrifying looking. Angel and the Guardian of the Word have some amusing back and forth but things get more interesting when Angel begins to fight the Keeper of the Name. We learn more about why Angel is fighting and what he is fighting for, which makes for a very effective sequence as it is intercut with Connor deciding that the world just isn't worth fighting for. The demon's comments could just as easily be applied to Connor. He says, "You can take away her power but you've already lost everything." The demon is obviously referring to Connor, but in Connor's case, this could apply to Cordelia or just his desire for a family. When Connor loses this, he gives up and just becomes numb to the world around him. Angel, as seen in "Epiphany" [2x16], just keeps fighting and it doesn't matter than he has already lost so much.

Angel isn't just fighting for justice or for his world, but also for Connor. The demon's mistake, however, is thinking that Angel is fighting for Connor because he wants his family to be complete again. The demon says again and again that Angel won't save Connor and that he is going to lose him, too. In the end, it's true. Angel doesn't save Connor and he becomes lost in the world, which leads to his actions in "Home" [4x22]. But, again, Angel recognizes that it doesn't matter if he doesn't win. The most powerful part of their entire scene is when the demon shouts, "He will never love you," and Angel just says back to him, "Doesn't matter." Angel has to try to save Connor and he has to try and let Connor make a decision for himself. Angel isn't fighting to save Connor's soul, but instead to save his will. And, in a way, Angel succeeds. Angel's actions allow Connor to see the world for what it really is, to see people in their violent and selfish glory, and then make a choice. It might not be what Angel had wanted, or even anticipated, but Angel brought back free will to Connor.

The fight between Angel and the Keeper of the Name was not only revealing, but exciting to watch. I love the idea that the only thing that can destroy Jasmine is her name, because she presents herself as this grand all-knowing entity that is really just above names and the humanity associated with them. The realization that she does, indeed, have a name is a nice way to shatter the façade that she creates. It also works because it is a reminder that she is not a perfect being that always succeeds. The name is from the other universe, where she failed to bring world peace. It is also just a great touch to have the Keeper's mouth sealed shut and adds another level of suspense to an already dense episode.

This is where the episode's two plots come together and it all leads to a very exciting conclusion. Jasmine's press conference is interesting because it works as a contrast to Holland Manner's speech in "Reprise" [2x15]. Here, Jasmine reassures people that they will see a world where there is no war or starvation because everyone will be working together in harmony. This is clearly a false message when it is compared to Holland's speech, where he argues that all of the evil in the world comes as a result of the people in it. If everyone was good and kind to each other, they wouldn't be people. They'd be angels. In this episode, Jasmine has done just that. By exterminating free will and creating world peace, she has essentially gotten rid of all the people in the world and put false angels in their place. This leads us to perhaps the most interesting question the entire season offers us: are people worth it? If this is what people do to one another, do we even deserve free will?

When Angel returns, he shows the world Jasmine's true face and it creates mass chaos. Once again, people have the choice to do whatever they want, and it leads to destruction and panic. Jasmine tries to reassure them and make them stay with her by telling them that it's all a lie, which I think is a wonderful touch since the real lie is the world she has been offering them for the past few episodes. She also calls to them and says, "Please don't leave me." I think this adds a lot to Jasmine as a character because it shows that she, too, is dependent on other people and her connection with them. It really brings her arc full circle due to her effect on the loneliness of Connor, Angel, and the entire gang.

The following sequence offers what I think is some of the best writing, acting, and directing of the season. The fight between Angel and Jasmine is one of the best of the series, making great use of the setting and also having a real emotional stake to it. Angel is literally fighting for his right to choose. Plus, there's fire, electrocuted people, and flying cars. All in all, it's a very exciting fight and a worthy conclusion to this four episode arc. I also just want to take a moment to give praise to Gina Torres, who truly knocks it out of the park in this scene. She has been doing great work as an all-knowing God, but she is just terrific as this fallen higher power. The small things like her voice cracking as she yells at Angel are what make this scene so powerful. There is so much rage and desperation in Jasmine that Torres portrays beautifully here.

The debate between Angel and Jasmine is very well written and the way that Fury makes Angel look like the bad guy is exceptional. Jasmine really has an excellent point here when she says, "look where free will has gotten you." Angel thinks that free will is what makes people who they are, and perhaps that's true, but is it really worth all the pain it causes? Jasmine doesn't think so and that's perfectly understandable. Jasmine wants to end the pain and adopts the policy that the end justifies the means. Thousands of people may have died because of her but she has also saved billions. She eradicated disease, poverty, war, hatred, jealousy, which are all just a part of human nature. Jasmine is possibly the opposite of Wolfram & Hart and yet Angel still fights her. She recognizes that "the world is doomed to drown in its own blood," just like Holland Manners showed Angel, and she works so hard to try and fix this.

The only thing Angel can ever do is hope to save a few souls and help people one at a time. He knows he can never accomplish his goal but he tries anyway, even if it won't truly accomplish anything substantial in the end. His resistance to Jasmine reveals just how much he values people's ability to change and better themselves. He has worked hard to help other people change, like Faith, and he has also worked so much to try to change himself, and he views the act of seeking redemption and trying to become better as much more significant than any actual realization of that goal. Angel even tells Jasmine, "All we can do is try to make up for it." This idea is crucial to the philosophy of the show, and these ideas are what propel Angel to his suicide mission in "Not Fade Away" [5x22].

Also, when Jasmine questions what Angel has done, he just responds that he did what he had to do. He denied paradise simply because he could, but at the same time, he is denying everyone else the choice. I have to wonder how many people in the world are in Connor's shoes, so defeated and tired that they would rather choose the inability to choose as long as they lived in peace and happiness for the rest of their lives. Angel denies them of that choice, too, because of his own ideals. This all goes back to what Connor said earlier. Angel and his friends fight just to fight, like that's the only thing that has meaning in their lives. To Angel, yes, maybe that is the purpose of his life. To fix the world in whatever way he can. Other people don't have the will to do that.

I also think it's interesting to note that throughout the episode, people refer to Angel as something that is less than human. The Guardian of the Word repeatedly calls Angel "dead thing" and Jasmine calls him "vampire." Despite the fact that Angel isn't truly living, he identifies himself as a part of humanity. After Angel says that free will is what makes people human, Jasmine shouts to him that he is not human, to which he replies, "Working on it." Angel desperately wants to become a real person, and his connections with people and his desire to be better than who he is now helps him become one.

The concept of love is also brought up again and again throughout the episode, both as a follow-up to the events of "Sacrifice" [4x20] and as a precursor for "Home" [4x22]. The main idea that the episode tries to convey is that love is sacrifice, which was first brought up in "Sacrifice" [4x20]. Angel fights till his last breath in the other universe due to his love for Connor. He knows that Connor will never love him, but that is not why he fights. He fights expecting nothing in return. This idea carries over to Jasmine, as well, who claims that she loves this world and that she truly cares for it. She got rid of free will not to rule people, but instead to fix people. She even shouts, "I sacrificed everything I was to be with you." Once again, love is sacrifice.

Jasmine's outrage at the cruelty of the world is very similar to Dark Willow and her motivations at the end of Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her realization about how awful people can be to one another makes her believe that the only way she can make the world a better place is by getting rid of people altogether. To Jasmine, the answer to whether or not humans are worth the trouble they cause is a resounding no. Jasmine's turn against humanity could have very easily been rushed or sloppy, but it instead feels perfectly reasonable and the episode almost forces the audience to sympathize with her. In some of the other episodes in this arc, the problem with Jasmine was that it was hard to see her as anything other than evil, especially once she began eating people. Here, however, her reasoning is very understandable and the pain that Gina Torres' portrays helps make her a more three-dimensional villain.

The one major fault I have in this episode is Jasmine randomly kissing Angel during their fight. To me, this really brings their scene and their entire episode down. It really makes no sense to me and it is used as a way for the writers to help explain Connor's turn on Jasmine. In my opinion, it was completely unnecessary. I think Connor's motivations were clear and his turn very logical. The kiss was just gratuitous and another way to have Angel take away the person Connor loves. I absolutely hate that moment and it is the one glaring mistake in an otherwise incredibly strong episode.

Back to the good, though! At the end of the episode, we see how low Connor has really gotten. I don't think he was lying when he told Jasmine that he still loves her, but I don't think he believes that she loves him back. I think Connor loves many people and wants to believe in them, but after all he has been through, he just can't. Deep down, I really believe that Connor still loves Angel, but he has been so hardened and torn away from people so many times that he can't open himself up anymore. Whenever he does, it always ends in despair for Connor. I really love that Connor is the one that ends up killing Jasmine because it marks Connor killing the lie that he had been following. From now on, Connor is just done.

This is very clear when Connor runs away from an injured Angel screaming his name. He is no longer willing to try to connect with anyone else. Like Jasmine, he has witnessed the horrors of humanity and how the people that are supposed to be closest to you can still do horrible things and hurt you. Connor decides that the only way to fix the pain is to close off from the world; to stop caring. Angel even comments that "his face was just blank." Connor has nothing left in the world and he feels like no one cares about him. He walks away from Angel and his last chance for a family in a situation eerily similar to the end of "Sleep Tight" [3x16], with Angel crawling on the ground and huge fire raging behind him. He gives up his family in the same way he was ripped away from his first one.

I also want to say that the cliffhanger in this episode is really great. I know that I was really shocked the first time I watched the episode and saw Lilah in the Hyperion. It's great to see her return since she is one of the most interesting characters on the show and the idea that Angel has done exactly what Wolfram & Hart wanted is very intriguing and a great way to move into "Home" [4x22] and Season 5. What a great ending.

The rest of the characters, like Fred, Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne, unfortunately have very little to do throughout the episode. Fred has a chance to stand up to Jasmine early on in the episode, which is a great follow-up to "The Magic Bullet" [4x19] and Gunn has a strong moment where he successfully breaks them out of the cage saying, "Never give up. Never surrender." Gunn's statement harkens back to the idea that Angel Investigations will never stop fighting, no matter how tough it gets and no matter how pointless it seems. It is them against the entire world, but Gunn keeps fighting. The only other significant point for these four in the episode is their manipulation of Connor. They plant the seeds of doubt in Connor's head about Jasmine and they effectively begin the end of his new life with her. Though it may be unintentional, Fred, Wesley, Lorne, and Gunn all contribute to Connor's decision to give up on the world.

"Peace Out" [4x21] is an example of everything that Season 4 of Angel can accomplish when it is firing on all cylinders. It has a huge scope, a very suspenseful and tense ending, and also wonderful character development with great, sweeping themes. In some ways, it functions as the finale of Season 4 and with all the discussion on fate versus free will, it feels right. For a finale, it still could have worked a little better, but as an exploration of humanity, free will, and the price that they cost, it works beautifully.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+The parallel to "Sleep Tight" [3x16] in the final scene between Angel and Connor.
+Angel trying to electrocute Jasmine.
+The Keeper of the Name's mouth being sewn shut.
+The direction. The shot of Connor running out of the cathedral is stunning.
+The reporter forgetting to ask her question because she was just so stunned that Jasmine knew her name.
+Jasmine ordering the people to kill Angel right after she says she wants a peaceful world.
+The sign on the cathedral saying, "God is nowhere. Jasmine is the way."
  
-Beginning the episode with a peaceful LA and moving down to the chaos in the sewers. This feels a bit too on the nose.
-"Mmm. Time for my close-up."
-The CGI for the other world that Angel visited; just awful.
-Jasmine channeling herself through the unconscious guards in order to reach Connor. It was too cheesy for me.
-How did Jasmine not realize that Connor had gotten to Cordelia sooner? Or did she just not care?
-Why would Jasmine keep Fred, Gunn, Lorne, and Wesley alive? They were just threats to her and she had no reason to save them.
-I know I mentioned it in the review, but it deserves to be repeated: Jasmine kissing Angel!
Foreshadowing
  • Lorne saying, "That's all folks," just as he does at the end of Not Fade Away.
  • The Guardian of the Word tells Angel that he will lose Connor and that he will never love him. This happens in "Home" [4x22], where Angel actually kills Connor.
  • Angel fears that since Connor has given up, he could do something really bad, which he does in "Home" [4x22] when he takes a store full of people hostage.
90/100A-
N/A

DEPTH
N/A

EMOTION
N/A

CHARACTER
N/A

PLOT
Quotes
CONNOR:All your talk about saving the world. Well, now someone's gone and done it. Made everything right and good. And you can't stand it because you're all so full of yourselves! Don't ya get it? You're all alone now…all of you. You're the ones left out in the cold. You don't belong.

LORNE:Yeah. If he's not careful, we might move about freely in our impervious ten by nine steel cage.

GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:You can take away her power but you've already lost everything.

GUNN:You know what maggot face looks like and you're still big on the worship?

GUNN:People? She eats people!?

GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:Her true name is known only by the keeper of the name.
ANGEL:Right. That's you.
GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:No. I am the guardian of the word.
ANGEL:You said the word is the name.
GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:Yes, and I guard the keeper of it!
ANGEL:So you're the keeper of the keeper!?
GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:I am the guardian of the word!

JASMINE:Just know she's alive… and, well, comatose.

GUARDIAN OF THE WORD:The boy. The woman you've already lost. The boy is who you're fighting for. But you'll fail. You're going to lose him, too.

JASMINE’S MEN:We didn't do anything with the transcendent mother.

CONNOR:So tell me and I'll crush your windpipe.

GUNN:That's a whole lot of maybes.

CONNOR:And it is better. Not harsh and cruel the way that Angel likes it so he has a reason to fight. Cause, y'know, that's what he's about! Him and the others. Finding reasons to fight! Like that's what gives their lives any meaning, the only damn thing! I'm not like them. I just wanna stop. Stop fighting. I just wanna rest. God, I wanna rest. But I can't. It's not working, Cordy. I tried. I tried to believe. I wanted it. I went along with the flow. Jasmine, she's…she's bringing peace to everyone. Purging all of their hate and anger….but not me. Not me! I know she's a lie. Jasmine…my whole life's been built on that. I just…I guess I thought this one was better than the others.

JASMINE:Although, a temple would be nice.

JASMINE:There are no absolutes. No right and wrong. Haven't you learned anything working for the powers!? There are only choices. I offered paradise. You chose this.

JASMINE:The world is doomed to drown in its own blood.
ANGEL:The price was too high. Our fate has to be our own or we're nothing.

JASMINE:Remember the prophecy, Angel? The one that says in the time of the apocalypse, you'd play your part? How you never knew whether you'd be on the side of good or evil? Well now you know. Thanks to you, this frail little power that was has enough power left to wipe out your whole species. And it's all on your hands.

ANGEL:He's just given up. He might do something. He might –
LILAH:End world peace? Well, you already took care of that. Congratulations.


Comments (14)
All Comments | Link1 | Brachen ManDec 1, 2011 @ 5:29pm
Great review, Ben! You gave a far more objective review than I would have. My personal opinion on this one is mixed. I love basically everything Angel says about people being worth it and how free will is better than enslaved happiness, but everything else is sort of wrong. I still can't figure out exactly what the writers were trying to accomplsih here. All their messages were so jumbled and mixed that I was just happy to see the whole thing end. If they'd made a clearer message and actually gone through with it instead of all the Evil Cordy / Jasmine / Connor melodrama then this would have been a much more solid effort. The score I would give it probably fits somewhere among the 80-90 range.
All Comments | Link2 | BenDec 1, 2011 @ 7:16pm
Thanks, Brachen Man! I can see where people would feel conflicted over this episode. If you hated the Jasmine arc, I can't imagine loving this episode since it relies on the support from the previous three or four episodes. I was a bigger fan of Jasmine than most, so I thought most of the Jasmine stuff here worked brilliantly. I don't think the messages were really jumbled at all. I don't think there was one clear message, but I don't think that's what they wanted, either. The ambiguity and the fact that they leave some of it hanging is the most interesting part of it, for me. In a lot of ways, Angel is the antagonist of this story. He ended world peace, ruined a God's hopes and dreams of a Utopia, and destroyed his son's happiness. But I can definitely see where you're coming from. Thanks for the comment!
All Comments | Link3 | AlexDec 2, 2011 @ 1:52am
Ben, this must have been a really tough one to review, and you did a great job! Well done!

I must say I wouldn't give this anything close to a 90, personally, but I think I have trouble distinguishing between what I don't like about this particular episode and what I don't like about the Jasmine arc/Season 4 as a whole. I agree that this manages to wrap up the story very well, it's just that I'm not sure how I feel about the story to begin with.

I think the 'spider demons', or whatever they're actually called, really bring this episode down in my opinion - and not just because of the CGI. I already said it in my review of "Shiny Happy People", but I think they're introduced far too late and the whole thing just seems a little too convenient. The Keeper having his mouth sewn shut is extremely creepy and works pretty well, but I guess I just don't like the fact that to defeat Jasmine, Angel has to go to another world and beat up a big demon. It feels a bit like a last-minute writing effort, like someone said 'great, we've got this awesome goddess and we've got everyone hypnotised and it's really spooky - now how are we going to get out of this one?'

Having said all that, I agree that the final scene with Jasmine is absolutely brilliant. I do find myself actually feeling sorry for her here, which is pretty incredible. It reminds me of a quote I heard a long time ago which I can't remember word-for-word, but I believe it was someone like Jeremy Irons who was asked how he managed to get into character while playing a bad guy. And he said something like 'it's easy, it's no different from playing a good guy, because no matter which side they're on a character will always think they're completely in the right'. I'm sure it was much more eloquent than that, but this scene made me think of it because even though we know Jasmine's ultimately the 'baddie', we also see that she completely believed in what she was trying to do, and is genuinely heartbroken that someone ruined it for her.

Lastly, I just wanted to congratulate you on writing such a great character study of Connor. I'm not really a Connor fan and although I often feel sorry for him, I've never really stopped and thought about his development in much detail. You really took a good look at his life and the way it's moulded his character, and it's a great read. Well done!

Will we be seeing more reviews from you soon? I hope so!
All Comments | Link4 | buffyholicDec 2, 2011 @ 3:28am
Wonderful, wonderful review! What you said about Connor I agree completely and his scene in the church is just marvelous and a favorite of mine. Connor is annoying at times but I never hated him like so many fans do because a family and a place to belong is all he ever wanted and I feel sorry for him. Also, your analysis of Jasmine´s arc is also great. This arc has some problems in the execution but I admit that the themes they present here just fascinate me every time. The whole dialogue between Angel and Jasmine, as well as her arc is really food for thought and makes us wonder what would be better. And I too feel a bit sorry for Jasmine in the end.

Really great episode, I agree with your score and your review really does an amazing job in summarizing the main points.
All Comments | Link5 | BenDec 2, 2011 @ 1:41pm
Thanks for the comments and kind words, both of you! I really, really appreciate it!

Oh, yes, the spider-demons. I in no way love them but I think that's more of a fault of "Sacrifice" (which, IMO, is rushed beyond belief) and that the story progression here makes more sense and works better, for me, at least. To be honest, I agree that it is anticlimactic. I too thought, "Well, that's all they have to do?" And that's where a lot of the 10 points I deducted went (although Jasmine's kiss and the absence of other characters also did it). The reason I'm somewhat okay with it is because I see the defeat of Jasmine to be after she is exposed to the world. I think the true climax of the story is Jasmine and Angel's fight on the streets of LA, which I think is not anticlimactic in the least. But I agree with you on the spider-demons, don't love 'em. I also had a feeling that most people would rate the episode lower than me because I actually am a fan of the Jasmine arc. Of course, it's not without its problems but I think the risks it takes and the concepts that come out of it outweigh some of the problems I have with it. But like I said to Brachen Man, I completely understand that being someone that was never a fan of the story in the first place, it would be hard to love the conclusion.

Thank you so much on your comments about the Connor section! Believe it or not, he's one of my favorites in season 4 and one of the most consistent characters here (with Angel, Lilah, and Wesley beating him out) and the main reason I chose this episode was to stand up for the kid a bit. I'm heartbroken for him every single time I watch.

I definitely agree with everything you said about Jasmine. And doesn't that always make for the most interesting bad guys? That's why I love the Angel baddies more. It's never one-sided. Holtz, Jasmine, Darla, even Wolfram & Hart. If you actually round a character out more, they are bound to become more sympathetic even if they are the bad guy, so I think the fact that almost all of my sympathy lies with Jasmine in the final act shows how great of a job they did in creating a three-dimensional human character. In her mind, she's really the angel that's come to save them.

I am not signed up for any other reviews yet, but I want to! I just need to find another episode that I feel like I have something to say about and then hopefully I can crank out another review. Thanks again for your comments!
All Comments | Link6 | buffyholicDec 3, 2011 @ 2:39am
I forgot to mention one thing: I´ve never really thought about how Angel while fighting for his ideals, is denying people the right to choose what do they want. That´s a very interesting thought that never crossed my mind!
Thanks, Ben, and again, wonderful review.
All Comments | Link7 | Giles_314Dec 3, 2011 @ 3:37pm
Fantastic review, Ben. I'm glad I'm not alone in enjoying this episode. Season 4 is quite a bumpy ride, but I like where it ultimately ends up.

And I also feel the need to defend Connor. I feel like people tend to hate teenage characters for no real reason and don't really stop to consider the things they are actually going through. I think that Connor was a fantastic character and I really like his story.

Just one more thing I would like to add. I feel like Connor was almost Angel's redemption in a way. In the very first episode, Doyle told Angel that he needed to connect with people. That was the constant struggle of the show, really. Angel's attempts to find his redemption through connecting with humanity and eventually becoming human himself. I think this episode really shows how Angel accomplished that through his son. As he says to the demon, he fights for Connor. He fights because he loves Connor unselfishly, and through Connor he also loves humanity unconditionally.
All Comments | Link8 | VeloxMortisApr 20, 2012 @ 7:08pm
I loved this ending, it seems to have so much grey area, and you are not quite sure if Angel is really the good guy, but it is completely in character for him, in "Home" he chooses for everyone to stay at Wolfram and Heart.
All Comments | Link9 | XavierJun 14, 2012 @ 7:21pm
Like everyone said, great review! I do find Connor to be annoying, but after all he has been through, he has a valid reason to act the way he acts. He is similar to Dawn (and not just because both are whiny teenagers): Both are brought forth into this world as vessels for a higher being (Connor) and a goddess (Dawn). Connor and Dawn question their existence among mankind and one can see why they have such a hard time adjusting to life, especially Connor. Poor kids.

Also, I think everyone has to admit that despite the whole Connor/Jasdelia situation, Jasmine's reign as the big "bad" (or is it good?) was actually pretty interesting and fun to watch! I, too, feel sorry for her when she is stripped of her powers. It is important to note that when that happened, she ends up feeling lost, like her ex-followers. Now that her agenda is destroyed, she doesn't know what else is next, so she resorts to evil. A rogue, ambiguous ex-Power That Be? Now that's entertainment!

However, it would have been better to see Cordelia regain consciousness, now that Jasmine is dead. I'm gonna miss Cordy :/
All Comments | Link10 | Smallprint84May 18, 2015 @ 6:28am
Very nice review, Ben!!

Is it possible btw, that you can change the screenshot from this picture of Jasmine to the haunting shot of Connor running outside from the church? That suits the episode a bit more imo.
I feel so sorry for him in this and the next episode.
All Comments | Link11 | Smallprint84Jan 20, 2016 @ 3:30am
@ Mikejer:

Same question:

Is it possible btw, that you can change the screenshot from this picture of Jasmine to the haunting shot of Connor running outside the church? That suits the episode a so much more imo.
All Comments | Link12 | MikeJer | CREATOR/WRITERJan 20, 2016 @ 6:48am
Although I can change the screenshot, I'd prefer to respect the wishes of the person who wrote the review.
All Comments | Link13 | Smallprint84Jan 21, 2016 @ 3:58am
Replying to MikeJer (#12)
Oh, too bad Mikejer...
But I understand your point.
I know that you also like that shot of Connor.
All Comments | Link14 | UniSep 3, 2016 @ 6:53pm
The Free will plot reminds me of the Samaritan arc in person of interest
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