What if Peter Parker couldn’t hack it? We’ve been conditioned by decades of origin stories to believe that with great power comes great responsibility, but what if both the power and responsibility are not only unwelcome, but also unhealthy? What if what Peter really needed was to get help rather than fight crime? These are the unwelcome questions Connor’s been posing all season, made unavoidable by this episode’s conclusion. It’s enough to make me think that I may have been too quick in my assessment a couple of weeks ago that Connor’s homicidal turn came out of nowhere. I knew that the turn in “Magic Bullet” was coming of course, but it didn’t really register until I rewatched it. Connor didn’t move suddenly from troubled teen to murderer, he moved from being known as “The Destroyer” in a hell dimension to mutilating drug dealers, to sinking his dad to the bottom of the ocean, to being manipulated by an evil extra-planar entity. The darkness was always there in Connor, if only anyone had bothered to look for it.
The peace of Jasmine appears to have done wonders for the kid, he’s gone from being a sulkier version of his father to singing karaoke with the old man. Barry Manilow karaoke. Even more important he opens up to Angel for the first time about his life in Quar’toth; he wasn’t just raised in a hell dimension, he was raised in a hell dimension by an abusive father. It’s a well timed reminder of where Connor’s coming from and a good yardstick for how far he’s come. Or, rather, how far he’s willing to take this lie.
It’s not entirely clear at episode’s end but it is confirmed next week so I’ll run with it now; Connor’s faking it. It’s not an enchantment that makes him blithely accept the fact that Jasmine eats people or go along with the plan to kill Fred. The signs were there before the reveal, in his willingness to question Jasmine, even slightly, last week, and in his frustration after Angel recognises the truth. Connor’s always seen Jasmine for what she really is, he’s just accepted it and not because of the darkness inside of him but because she’s promised to make it go away.
Jasmine offers the possibility of a world without evil and Connor’s willing to fight for it, mostly because he can’t handle the alternative. Killing that girl two weeks ago wasn’t just the culmination of his downward spiral, it was his attempt to end it. He believed Cordy (or at least wanted to believe) when she said their baby would change the world and now that Jasmine’s here, he continues wanting to believe it because if it’s true than he can be saved. The murder could be rationalised if Jasmine really does usher in a new era of peace and love but, more than that, the world Connor lives in would finally stop being a reflection of the darkness he feels inside.
Much as we might admire the AI team, they’ve given Connor scant reason to like them. The chumminess here isn’t just about keeping up appearances, it’s about the fact these are people Connor finally wants to spend time with, Angel most particularly. Why sing a cover of Angel’s favourite song? Why open up to him about Quar’toth for the first time? These things are hardly essential to the illusion of loving Jasmine. Connor’s connection to her may be faked, but his growing one with his father isn’t. Angel’s finally stopped talking about the world being harsh, cruel, and dark and started saying that everything’s going to be okay. It doesn’t matter that it’s a lie, its what his son needed to hear. And then he takes it away. Being a champion takes precedence over being a dad.
Sorry for the delay this week folks, the holidays have thrown off the writing schedule.
I had intended to save my Connor post for the season finale, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how screwed up he is throughout this episode.
The early sequence where all of the Jasmine drones start chasing Fred is superb. Her against the world needed to end at some point and while her solution to bringing Angel onside was satisfying, I still wouldn’t have minded a bit more of this.
I love the fact that the conspiracy theorist is apparently left to burn alive in his bookshop. As Jasmine’s taken everyone’s free will, they’re paralysed without her direction.
The wardrobe change remains inspired in this episode. There’s nothing inherently ridiculous about the new breezey stylings, but after four seasons of black and grey, it just looks hilarious.
I also love how despondent everyone is after losing Jasmine.