Monday, June 25, 2012

Angel: The Magic Bullet (4.19)

The Magic Bullet opens in complete juxtaposition to the season as we've known it so far. In what works as a direct antithesis to the Beast's sun-blocking fire and brimstone earlier this year, we've now arrived in an Angel permanently bathed in bright sunlight, with peace and happiness spreading through the streets of Los Angeles and everyday people being overcome with joyful rapture. But another cool parallel burns through this episode, with the outward peace only masking the paranoia and suspicion directed at the renegade Fred, as well as the casual treatment of self-destruction in the name of God, and the fact that Jasmine has been, you know, eating folk behind closed doors.

While I love certain things about this arc, I definitely remembered there being a lot of plot staggering during Jasmine's appearances, notably in the two episodes slotted in the middle of this four-hour saga. Based on The Magic Bullet, I'm not entirely wrong with my memory. There's a lot to like here, especially the continued isolation of Fred, but specific moments are a chore to get through. Fred's encounter with the executive demon, while featuring a fun guest spot from Danny Woodburn, is a major time-filler, while there's similar levels of staggering after Angel is exposed to the truth: his kiss with Fred is pure promo-bait, while the group discussions about Jasmine's betrayal are heavy on dialogue but light on any particular depth.

Without sounding like I'm dumping all over this, there's obviously a lot to like. Fred's plan with the bullet is ridiculously cool, while I'm loving the levels Amy Acker is giving her performance in these episodes: the desperation, the loneliness, the constant fear as she's pursued by possessed individuals. I also continue to like the juxtaposition between perceived free-will and the persecution that actually becomes the entire focus of the cause. The episode coasts successfully on its Body Snatchers tone for most of the hour, and it's all pretty fun. From there, scenes drag a little, but the cliffhanger is intriguing and opens up even more questions. B-

Guest stars Gina Torres (Jasmine); Danny Woodburn (Demon); Patrick Fischler (Ted)
Writer Jeffrey Bell Director Jeffrey Bell

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