Angel 4x21 Review: Queen of Spades
Written by David Fury
Directed by Jefferson Kibbee
The team, minus Angel, is still fighting the army dudes. They are soon overwhelmed and captured. Angel is in the other dimension, where, fortunately, all the bug demons are easily repelled by the interdimensional key. He spots a building on a mountain, likely the temple he’s aiming for.
Holy crap Lorne has been in the intro credits since “Release” and I only just noticed! This is what I get for spacing out during the intro credits. Well I’m going to analyze the heck out of him in the character analysis section from now on!
Once the team is all tied up and on their knees, Connor taunts them about how he has to kill them now. He thinks the only reason they’re trying to stop Jasmine is because they can’t stand the idea of someone besides them saving the world. He gets ready to start beheading them, but Jasmine tells him to bring them to her instead. He’s annoyed, but grudgingly follows her orders.
Angel is climbing up the cliff face to the temple. Dang. I suppose those bug demons can just skitter right up without a staircase.
Connor brings the team in to see Jasmine. She’s so sad for them because they’ve lost her love. She wishes she could take them back. They don’t. She asks where Angel is, and Connor punches Wes when he won’t answer. Wes asks her about the bug demon, which she recognized. She essentially practiced her utopia plan on them. Sped up their evolution and smoothed out their society. But she didn’t feel they were worthy of her attention after a while. She knows why Angel went there, and she says he’s wasting his time. Wes counters that if that were the case, they’d already be dead. Jasmine has a lady come in to discuss her impending nation-wide broadcast. Fred begs Connor to put a stop to this, but he’s still on her side. Also, Connor has always been able to see Jasmine’s maggot face; it doesn’t bother him. Jasmine assigns Connor to guard the team while she feasts in preparation for her press conference. Connor is very curious about what Angel’s looking for. She doesn’t explain.
Angel has arrived at the temple, which has statues of Jasmine, except in bug form. A priest, which seems to be a bipedal variant of these bug creatures, tells Angel he’s wasting his time. He calls himself the Guardian of the Word. He grumbles about how most of his people have forgotten about Jasmine, but he has faith that she’ll return. Angel makes a rather feeble attempt to trick him into saying Jasmine’s real name. Then he moves on to threats.
Connor locks the team in Angelus’s cage. Lorne asks him about always being able to see Jasmine’s true face. Connor explains that it’s because he grew up in hell. He really doesn’t care about appearance. Fred tries to reach him by bringing up Cordy, and how she’s in serious need of medical attention. He tells them she’s been moved somewhere safe. Then Wes asks him what Jasmine eats, because the bug demon called her the Devourer. He asks what happens to the people she keeps having brought to her. They figure out that she’s been eating people. Maybe she ate Cordy. How can they know if they don’t see her for themselves? This definitely disturbs Connor.
Angel holds the priest off the ground by the neck, trying to get answers about Jasmine’s name. Eventually, it comes out that he isn’t the one who actually knows the name, he’s just sort of the gatekeeper of the dude who does. And that dude seems to have done nothing his whole life but work out. And he’s not going to say Jasmine’s name except with his last breath.
Connor enters the banquet hall, where a crowd of people are stripping down in preparation for Jasmine to eat them all. Connor wants a word. She can tell he’s there about Cordelia. She wants him to trust her when she says Cordelia is safe, but he wants a more definite answer. A location. Jasmine says that he and Cordelia are her tether to this world; she not only wouldn’t hurt them, she couldn’t. She just had Cordelia moved. Connor grudgingly heads back downstairs to resume guarding the team.
Angel is fighting the Keeper of the Word while the priest serves as peanut gallery, asking him why he fights. It can’t be his friends, because he left them for dead. Angel says he fights for the rest of the world. But is that why he’s there? The priest says it’s his son he fights for, but he’s going to lose him.
Connor walks through the crowd in the lobby, which includes a bunch of press people preparing for not just a nation-wide, but a world-wide broadcast. Connor catches the scent of Cordelia’s perfume—one of the ladies in there is using it because she heard Cordelia loved it. Connor gets out to the courtyard and sends people to talk to the reporters. He finds two guys talking. He knows they’re the ones who moved Cordelia (because of scent). They remain cagey, so he starts with the physical intimidation.
The priest is still talking about how Angel has done so much for Connor. Why does he bother? He was only a device to bring forth Jasmine. The priest ends up getting stabbed by a blow from the Keeper that missed Angel. Aw, so we won’t get an answer for why Angel fights for Connor even if Connor hates him.
Gunn is repeatedly kicking the door to Angelus’s cage, which is giving Lorne a headache. He’ll stop as soon as someone else thinks of a better plan. Fred thinks it’s weird that Connor left. Wes is thinking about the power of Cordelia’s blood. Wes wonders what the point is of having Cordelia moved rather than just killed. He thinks maybe she’s could be Jasmine’s weakness. They just need to find her and wake her up.
Cut to a rather elaborate church. Connor goes inside. The chapel is boarded up, and a pair of guards find him in the foyer. They tell him no one is allowed inside, and they’re really happy about it. Connor doesn’t care. He’s going in there. He breaks through the barriers to the chapel by hurling both guards through it. Sure enough, Cordelia is inside, lying under a veil on the altar.
Green light fades from the banquet hall, forming into tentacles and then into Jasmine. She just finished eating all those people, and now she’s more powerful than ever.
Connor sits next to Cordelia and tells her about the world Jasmine is making. He isn’t completely certain that this world is what she wanted. It seems he’s starting to have an existential crisis about his purpose in life. He goes on a rant about Angel and the team and how they need reasons to fight or else their lives have no meaning. He, Connor, desperately wants to stop fighting and rest, but for some reason he can’t. He’s been trying so hard to be part of Jasmine’s world, but he just feels empty. The hate and anger inside him isn’t going anywhere, but everyone else gets to feel peace. He admits he knows Jasmine is a lie, he just thought she might be a good one.
All of the reporters are getting ready for Jasmine to appear in the lobby. They’re psyched to share her benevolence with the rest of the world. Upstairs in the corridor, the lady who was organizing the press conference and the dude Connor beat up find Jasmine to tell her what Connor made him say about Cordelia. Jasmine isn’t pleased, but she wants to get to the press conference.
Jasmine walks out into the lobby. All the cameras are on her, and everyone kneels. She has them stand and tells them to hold their heads high as she welcomes everyone else in the world. She says she’s not there to be a leader or a god, but their partner in the creation of a world without misery or fear or suffering. Applause all around.
Down in the cell, the team can hear the applause and their hearts sink as they realize they might be some of the only people left in the world who aren’t under Jasmine’s spell. Up in the lobby, Jasmine asks for questions from her audience. Some are too overwhelmed by the fact that she knows their names to think of questions. One asks her what she wants of them. All she wants is for them to love each other and maybe build her a temple.
In the middle of her description of the temple she wants, a portal opens in the lobby and Angel emerges. He tosses the interdimensional key aside. Jasmine orders everyone to kill him, but they back off in horror and confusion when they see that he’s holding a demon’s head. Jasmine tells him not to, but he cuts the threads binding the Keeper’s mouth shut. It says her real name. Green light shines from Jasmine as her face changes from the lovely Gina Torres face to the gross maggoty face, then eventually sticks on some kind of growth-covered halfway point. Everyone in the lobby flees in a panic. And the cameras caught it all.
Down in the basement, the team isn’t optimistic about what just happened, but Gunn’s dogged kicking of the door finally pays off, to the surprise of the other three. They leave the cell.
Jasmine walks down the street, which is utter chaos. She tries to talk to someone, but she’s wasting her time. All the brainwashy love has turned to fear and hatred. People are basically looting and rioting. Jasmine closes her eyes and calls for Connor. In the church, her voice comes out of one of the unconscious guards. He runs to find her.
Angel catches up with Jasmine first, as she’s walking across a bridge. Angel tells her he did what he had to do and she spouts off a bunch of nonsense about how he’s wrong; there are no absolutes like right and wrong. He explains that free will is priceless, it’s their right. Maybe they screw the world up with that free will, but happiness is meaningless if it’s forced. Angel has no intention of letting her hurt anyone else. She doesn’t understand why he hates her so much, so he explains. She thinks he’s a hypocrite for including “eats people” on his list, since he’s done that too. She admits she killed thousands, but it was to save billions. Angel won’t budge, but he does try to offer Jasmine a chance to make amends and make the world a better place the right way. Her response is to punch him off the bridge.
After the commercial break, Jasmine throws a car at Angel. He gets out of the way in time, but it smashes into the car he landed on and they both explode. Then she jumps over the side of the bridge and strides up to him. She’s decided she can make the world a better place by killing everyone. She says she was the only higher power who even cared about this world, but now she’ll destroy it. Angel zaps her away from him with a broken power cord. She brings up the Shanshu prophecy, and how Angel never knew if he would gain his reward by saving the world or destroying it. Well, she’s going to destroy it, and it’s his fault. Then she grabs him and kisses him, for some reason.
That’s when Connor shows up. Connor makes a really uncomfortable joke about how he and Angel are always fighting over the same girls. She’s your daughter, dude, and Angel so did not kiss her on purpose. Jasmine is very happy to see him.
The team still has no idea what happened. Lorne discovers that all the TV stations are offline. Gunn finds the head of the Keeper, and Wes realizes that Angel must have succeeded. They head outside to look for Angel and Cordelia before Jasmine finds them, but when they get to the door, there’s something out there that stops them from going any further.
Jasmine talks to Connor, making sure he’s still on her side. He says he is, but the second she turns to face Angel again, Connor punches through her head. Gross. She crumples to the ground, very much dead. Angel is shocked, but he tries to tell Connor that everything’s going to be okay. Connor walks away, ignoring Angel’s attempts to call him back.
When Angel returns to the hotel, it’s to find the team all there waiting for him. He’s so relieved that they’re alive. He tells them what happened after he got back with Jasmine’s name, and that Connor killed her. He’s really worried about Connor, but they have something else they’re worried about. That would be Lilah, who pops out of the office to congratulate him for ending world peace.
I kind of feel like “Peace Out” is the weakest of the Jasmine arc. It focuses a lot on Connor and his existential despair, which isn’t exactly riveting television. Angel’s side of the story is good but doesn’t occupy a lot of screentime. Jasmine expanding her influence is nice and creepy, but we’ve had three episodes of that now, so it’s not really surprising. The story surrounding the rest of the Angel Investigations team doesn’t really go anywhere. Wesley has an idea for another way they might be able to hurt Jasmine, and they do manage to escape the cell, but his idea ultimately comes to nothing. Angel doesn’t even find out they’re still alive until after the final confrontation with Jasmine. Maybe it was important for it to only be Angel and Connor in that final confrontation, but it kind of shortchanged the rest of the team. Maybe they could’ve broken out of the cell in time to reach the lobby when Angel came through the portal? They could’ve fought off the Jasmine groupies long enough for Angel to cut the strings over the Keeper’s mouth, instead of them just recoiling when they saw a demon head. Then they would’ve been involved in the main story instead of sidelined the whole time. Still, I do very much like all the mindless bliss vs. free will stuff. Very intriguing, and I love how strongly Angel believes in the value of free will.
I don’t think I realized before that Angel believed his whole team really did die fighting the army guys, and that Connor (who hates him) and Cordelia (who’s in a coma) were all he had left. That’s devastating. But even thinking that, he still didn’t give up or even slow down on his mission. He loves his team like family, but their shared purpose is to protect the world. He’s not going to stop fighting after they’ve all supposedly given up their lives for that cause.
Gunn has spent most of the season feeling increasingly discontented with his primary role as the team’s bruiser (instead of, perhaps, flashing his grifter skills so that they could make use of them), but it’s those exact traits he’s felt inadequate about that get them all out of the cell. Go Gunn! You know, I think I’d put Gunn in Hufflepuff, actually. He’s one of those Hufflepuffs who feels like unwanted leftovers for being a Hufflepuff instead of recognizing that Hufflepuffs are awesome. He’s very loyal, determined, and can kick major butt, but he’s not sure he really has a place in a group full of people with seemingly more important skills.
I love Fred’s cold fearlessness in the face of Jasmine’s continued professions of love. She knows Jasmine could have them all killed in a second, but she won’t play along with Jasmine’s definition of love anymore. She spends most of the rest of the episode being a somewhat pessimistic realist, but definitely not cowering. Girl is strong.
Even though I don’t like Connor pretty much at all, I feel very sorry for him. He’s right; almost his entire life has been based on lies. Holtz raised him to use against Angel, possessed Cordelia used him to create a human body for Jasmine, and even Jasmine used him as her enforcer but refused to trust him with the information he wanted. Angel loves him, but he was never able to be there for him because of a combination of circumstances and Connor’s own actions. On top of that, it looks like the only reason he was even born was to help bring forth Jasmine, and if Jasmine’s way is wrong, then his entire existence is meaningless. He has more claim than most teenagers on the “my life sucks” complaint and the tendency to lash out as a result. It’s all such a shame, because there have been glimpses ever since Connor came back from hell that there’s a good kid in there somewhere who wants to help people and be loved and included, he just has no idea how to overcome all the obstacles in his way.
This isn’t the best episode to realize Lorne is already in the main credits, because he doesn’t do a whole lot to merit analysis. He does seem to be the most upbeat of the team about their horrible situation, but that’s about it.
I like that Wes doesn’t just give up on thinking of potential solutions even after it seems like Angel might not make it back with Jasmine’s name and they’re all in a cage. He keeps thinking of other possibilities.
“So tell me and I’ll crush your windpipe.”
“Y-you mean ‘or,’ right? Or you’ll crush my windpipe?”
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In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.