Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E19 – The Magic Bullet

In the nineteenth episode of the fourth season of Angel, Fred discovers a valuable key to expose the truth of Jasmine’s identity. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Angel.

I still reserve the right to hate how we got here. I do! I hate that Cordelia’s characterization (and the characterization of pretty much everyone) was gutted to make way for this plot. No, seriously, Cordelia is here just to sleep and bleed. I’ve honestly never had to watch a favorite character be treated so terribly, and I’ve seen some of my faves go through some shit, y’all. It’s like she never even mattered at all, and aside from the one lifeless scene she has, the characters have all just… moved on? Blech. Does someone writing for this show just despise Charisma Carpenter or something? It’s the only thing I have to go on! Like, how on earth do you rectify character development like this?

So I’m laying all these cards on the table. I think it’s important to acknowledge openly when something is problematic, when you disagree with a writing choice, or when you plain don’t like something. I’m saying this at the beginning because once I look beyond this glaring oversight, HOLY GODS UP IN HEAVEN, THIS EPISODE RULES. It’s so weird hating the journey when the end result is goddamn fantastic. I love this exploration of devotion, of identity, of loneliness. I adore how relentlessly creepy Jasmine is. I love that THIS ENTIRE ARC IS ALL ABOUT HOW INCREDIBLE WINIFRED BURKLE IS. Does it suck that Cordelia had to be completely destroyed in order to make this happen? You have no idea how much this hurts me. That being said, I am on board with this plot.

Again, the fact that Fred spent five years in Pylea cannot be ignored. Her worst nightmare is unfolding all over again, except now we see how images of happiness and unity are used against her. There, she was among strangers, forced to work within an oppressive society against her will. Now, she’s being shunned by her very best friends. It’s an awful situation for her to be in, and yet she still finds a way to fight back. Initially, she tries to discover a way to break Jasmine’s spell, wherein we are introduced to Ted, the lovable conspiracy theorist who runs The Magic Bullet bookstore. Everyone, go watch Mulholland Drive for Patrick Fischler’s horrifyingly surreal monologue in a diner. It’s one of my favorite moments in any film ever made. Also, that movie is just plain one of my favorite films, it’s really awesome. The name of Ted’s bookstore is a clue to what Fred is looking for: the “magic bullet” that will expose Jasmine for who she is. (It’s also a clever reference to conspiracy theories in general, one that Fred feels she is living, and was spawned by the very conspiracy theory that Jasmine destroys when she tells Ted that there was only one shooter who killed JFK.) (Also, the “magic bullet” of this episode is literally a bullet.) (You could also interpret the “magic bullet” as Jasmine’s mind control, which rid the world of all bad stuff. Except getting eaten. Well, I’m getting to that.)

I had hoped that Ted and his wonderful eyebrows would be Amy’s partner-in-crime against Jasmine, but even he, the constant conspiracy theorist, fell victim to Jasmine’s spell. This horrible situation is made even worse when Jasmine manifests something hinted at during the end sequence of “Shiny Happy People”: she accesses the minds of her followers to spy on Fred. For real, that is some freaky, conspiracy-theory-inducing shit, you know? It’s what makes Jasmine so terrifying. She completely violates the consent of THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE to benefit herself, and it’s simultaneously this creepy commentary on the invasion of privacy. Practically anywhere that Fred goes, she’s being spied on. THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE. Oh my god, is Jasmine the head of Facebook. SHE TOTALLY IS. (Actually, my friend Ashly fully believes that Jasmine has reincarnated as Katy Perry. I support this theory.)

After Ted didn’t pan out, I assumed that the short demon she met in that cave would be her companion. I missed the mark twice. So what? WHEN AM I EVER RIGHT? Meanwhile, while Fred’s hanging out with an adorable human-eating demon, the gang at the hotel are busy singing loving tunes dedicated to Jasmine while Zakk Wylde plays guitar??? This was really distracting??? WHY WAS ZAKK WYLDE EVEN THERE??? Oh god, the “Mandy” joke is back, and it’s still funny.

So! As you’ll see in today’s Mark Watches video, I did not put together Fred’s epiphany until mere seconds before it was spelled out to me. Are you at all surprised? So I was utterly confused as to why she was giving herself up by going straight to The Magic Bullet. “Fred,” I thought, “that seems like a monumentally bad idea, don’t you think?” And then I was confused when she apologized. This was clearly part of a plan, right? And then I was confused when she raised a gun to Angel, and then WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SHOOTING ANGEL THROUGH JASMINE and then OH MY FUCKING GOD ANGEL CAN SEE JASMINE’S REAL FACE. Also, could there like be a warning of some sorts when that’s going to pop up? I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but it’s one of the most revolting things I’ve ever seen, and it scares me, and a couple nights ago I had a dream about that face and it was not fun. 🙁

HOW GREAT IS EVERYTHING AFTER THIS? First off, Fred isn’t alone, and I nearly cried my eyes out when she admitted to Angel that she doesn’t feel like a champion. Like, my god, the writing for Fred’s character in this arc is out of this world good. (Which makes me even more angry that Cordelia is all but non-existent CAN YOU TELL I’M UPSET.) She’s so uncertain of herself that she believes she’s still not heroic. What she did to Angel was brave, courageous, and unbelievably risky, but Fred can’t see that. All she knows is that she is one person up against something she can’t fight, and so she defaults to the lowest possible opinion of herself. It’s something we’ve seen of Fred before, especially in season three, and it’s just heartbreaking to know that Jasmine did this to her. Make no mistake: as much as I adore the ground Gina Torres walks on, and as fascinated as I am by the character of Jasmine, I can’t ignore the horribly fucked up things this being has done. YOU HURT MY FRED, YOU WILL PAY.\

Honestly, though, this show fucked up by doing what it did to Cordelia, but it is now winning by putting Fred right in the center of this. Fred was the one who figured out that Jasmine’s own blood breaks the spell she has over everyone. Without that, Angel could have never gotten Lorne, Gunn, and Wesley over to their side either. Fred, honey, you are a goddamn champion in my book.

It was incredible watching the rest of the team get “infected.” I just wanted them all back. Plus, the side affect of waking up was done well, too. These people felt a deep, physically-demanding sense of loss and depression. All that artificial joy Jasmine gave them left a vacancy in their souls. Which they replaced with anger. Oh my god, they’re going to be so upset.

Anyway, watch today’s video. You will see me figure out that Connor is lying like a full minute before it’s revealed that Cordelia’s blood has no effect on him. Which makes sense, since he’s technically the father, right? So Cordelia, Jasmine, and Connor can all break the spell with their own blood. Well, that’s my guess, that is. So what next? How do they do this for thousands of people? Ew, this seems rather unsanitary, doesn’t it?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Watches ‘Angel’: S04E19 – The Magic Bullet

  1. Dave says:

    Charisma Carpenter was really pregnant in real life at this point in the show. She was taking time off to have her baby and such, so they pretty much minimized Cordelia being in the episodes.

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