Like a Flower in Fall
4.21. Peace Out, Airdate: 04/30/03 (WB, 8/9c).
First of all: thanks, and thanks again! Many of you sent e-mails, wishing a happy holiday and some of you even wrote exhausting reviews of their own and sent them in. I haven't read them yet, though, since I'd like to shun other reviews as long as I haven't written mine. But I'll read them all, and I'll add the most interesting points to my feedback section, as always. It's amazing how writing these reviews led to so many people from all over the world writing to me - and I always feel, Joss Whedon has created something special if it is able to bring people together around the globe to very emotionally yet peacefully discuss the Buffyverse.;-)
The big news this week was: Jasmine is dead. Second rank: Cordy isn't. As I wrote earlier on, I didn't believe Cordy's dead, and most of you didn't neither, not even mentioning her in your e-mails. But there's a big surprise with Cordy nonetheless: she didn't kill Jasmine, Connor did. As far as we know, she still hasn't regained consciousness.
Should we ask: What will be her part? I know a more satisfying question: What the hell was that? Jasmine dead, and it's not even the finale? What's coming next? Well, obviously, it's Lilah and since she's dead, chances are good, it's the First Evil. Seems as if Jasmine wasn't in alliance with the First, but battling it in her own way - she would have had the power to defeat the FE, but would have enslaved humanity in her own "everbody's happy" way.
It was the old message of both BtVS and AtS: Living is about making choices. You have to make yours, nobody else can do that for you. "Life is just that: living" as Spike sung when Sunnydale went all "musically". Essentially that was why Jasmine was bad, because she took the choice - and that's a very interesting choice of badness, don't you think? If Jasmine had not used her beauty spell on the people, she essentially wouldn't have been the bad one - killing people isn't enough in the Buffyverse for that.
What's bad? What's good? Fighting against evil is not about making the world a paradise but about preserving it like it is now, and that isn't really positive. There's hatred and hunger, wars and jealousy among us, currently more than a dozen wars going on. And then there's a goddess coming, saying, she can make it go away. You just have to sacrifize a few people and she'll take doubt and uncertainty away. It's a bit like being a borg in the Star Trek universe: you lose your own personality, substitute it with some sort of shared personality - and there you go: one thought, one consciousness. I guess, this is pretty much what happened to all of Jasmine's followers, except the fact, he personality was the dominant one.
In some ways, it seems like the old war between communism and capitalism, and there were about ten e-mails labelling "Peace Out" an "anti-communist" show. I don't agree. The war between communism and capitalism was a war of money transfer systems, and thus about life style, too, but not exclusively. "Capitalism" comes down to: trade and industry are controlled by private owners, and "communism" essentially comes down to: trade and industry should be controlled by all to the benefit of all.
Before you sit down and write: Yeah, I know, Russia, Yugoslavia and so on, all these weren't communist countries in the strict sense of the word, but dictatorships labelling themselves either as communist or as socialist. I was talking about political theories here, not about how some presidents used to label their countries.;-) The problem with the purest form of communism is, it only works if you con't need things from the outside. If you have to engage in trade with other countries, all gets complicated - perhaps manageable, but the ideal form of communism is a group of monks living a monastery. They have their belief (an element which Marx and communists like him criticized heavily), which means: They have a common set of rules which leads to eternal damnation if you don't stick to it (at least in their heads) and they have a garden to grow everything they want to have.
If they wanted to buy a TV set to watch Buffy (hehe), they would have to trade, i.e. to make money by selling their stuff and buy a TV set. This doesn't break the rules, since the TV set then may be used by all of them (if they aren't a very big group, I admit). But, well, the TV has to be produced somehow, and if they bought some Asian product, chances are good, it was manufactured by children or by people getting less than a dollar for their week's efforts. Even if they bought some American TV set, it may be produced by a company trying to pay minimal wages to raise their profit marge. I don't feel bad when buying a TV set, and neither do you, since we aren't communists, but those monks certainly will, because their need of pleasure meant they supported child labour - or some odd company somewhere else not sticking to their ideals.
I know, that's a bit simplified, but that's not "Polticial Reviews" here, it's an AtS review, and I only threw that in to make clear why Jasmine's idea of a happy life wasn't a communist idea. It may seem like it, I have to agree, but Jasmine's system would have been based, I suppose, on losing your own personality and becoming one with the mass of believers.
And that's why all those "Jasmine is some sort of religious criticism" are off, as far as I'm concerned, anyway. Sharing property with everybody may seem a rather silly idea to most of you (and a brilliant one to some of you), but it has nothing to do with giving up conscious thinking - and neither does religion. people who believe don't give up their mind, not necessarily, anyway. But they may, as people do who follow blindly, no matter if they follow some sort of guru or some politician claiming to hold the truth. That's what Jasmine is about: about wishing there is an easy way, about the lure of letting someone do the thinking for you.
And honestly, that's what I kept repeating for the last few weeks, and I still stand by it. I really don't know why there are so many people out there who like ME to be against or in favor of some ideology or religion. Yes, I think they believe in something, but we all do. It doesn't matter if it is God, the hidden goodness of humanity or the belief, we would all be better off not believing. We all do it, and what counts is not the belief itself, but how we change through it, if we succeed in managing our lifes, and if we're willing not to think, if we are asked to.
Well, that really is enough about political theories. "Peace Out" showed us a different side of Connor - "battling his own demons" Connor, so to speak. He wasn't under any influence of Jasmine - hooray! He chose her though he saw her true self. And that's what made it special, and what made him special. When he hit Jasmine, more because he felt used than because of moral issues, Connor made the first step towards not being the most hated character on the show anymore. Up to now he was constantly changing his mind, switching sides like some people switch TV channels, and wasn't really seen as a special character with an amazing backstory. Now that we know his birth was part of Jasmine's plan, viewers may accept him more easily - if he survives, that is.
The plotting was very routinely written: Angel doing the usual fighting for artefacts, Connor switching sides again, the rest of the gang locked up. I think, what we saw, was the finale. I know, this week's ep is labelled the finale, but I think, it's only an ep that makes Angel (and, perhaps, others) go to Sunnydale. It will be bigger than an average filler, perhaps someone (Connor? Gunn?) will die, but in the end, it won't be the season finale in terms of plotting. The big bad this season was Jasmine (and her minions Cordy and Connor). Jasmine's dead, so they probably clean up the Cordy plot, but Lilah and W&H won't be the ultimate season antagonists, but serve only as cliffhangers to Buffy's last show.
If I am right, the finale wasn't very exciting. It was okay, but not very surprising, nor very moving. We had some nice action and fighting scenes, but it didn't come with big surprises. The message felt a bit overused and all in one, this season wasn't the best season AtS can do.
Shortcuts: AtS 4.21. Peace Out
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Was it good or not?
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Feedback (updated frequently)
Jasmine: Most of you were disappointed by how easily and unspecatcular Jasmine could be defeated. Carl writes, he thinks, it's good, ME made two separate villains, with Angel battling Jasmine, while Buffy's battling the FE. Now, of course, it's necessary to introduce the FE even to Angel and his gang, so he sees a reason to return to Sunnydale. I am looking forward to that one.