"Buffy" #39 - links and review

Dec 05, 2010 18:01

Discussion thread on Whedonesque; reviews and reactions by Stormwreath (positive), 2Maggie2 (positive), Zathraas (negative, satirical), Lusciousxander (positive), Buffyfestblog (positive)/ by shadowkat67 (negative), by Slaymesoftly (negative), by Aycheb (positive), by a2zmom (positive), Local_Max on Angel, Spike, and Xander and Buffy, Willow, and Magic (positive).

Giles fan's reaction.

Tranquil_ity did a a detailed recap, so I spoil only crucial plot elements here: Twangel kills The Master who tries to defend the Seed, and Giles who tries to destroy it. Shocked, Buffy breaks the Seed. Willow was flying and using the Seed's power to fight demons, so when it's broken, she falls on the ground and is devastated: "We lost!" As soon as the Seed is broken, the demons are banished from Earth and are sucked into the portals and back to their demon dimensions. On his ship Spike (badly burned, but in one piece) chases a vagina-shaped demon. The last page features the flashforward from "Anywhere But Here": Buffy lies on the ground, crying. Giles is dead, the Scythe is broken, the Seed is destroyed.

The issue is emotional, epic, kick-ass and it pushes all the right buttons - as long as you don't try to analyse the plot. Because it absolutely doesn't make sense. Case in point: Buffy's sudden decision to break the seed. Funnily, everybody else - Willow, Aluwin, Xander, Giles - knew that breaking the seed will banish all magic on Earth. But nobody told Buffy. Well, maybe Spike told her when she was daydreaming about Spuffy sex - but she didn't hear him. She was clueless (most likely due to co-writers' miscommunication). Another problem is overcrowding the story with characters that don't have any reason to be there except Joss wanting to make the finale epic. The main players are Buffy, Angel, Giles and Willow; the rest of the characters just stand on the sidelines not doing anything in particular. And - the "vagina dentata" monster is hilariously tacky.

But - do we watch and read BtVS because of the plots and monsters? Joss fascinates us with his larger-than-life characters making larger-than-life mistakes and paying for them - and here we have everything that makes BtVS stellar - pathos (Giles' death is heartbreaking); humor (Buffy to Angel and Spike: "I liked it better when you were kissing" Spike: "I'm fairly certain I never mentioned...") and epic character journeys.

Buffy. She falls hard, and her defeat roots deeply in her character. She's not an alpha. She's at her best when she works outside the system, when she defied the authorities, when she subverts the rules. But in season 8 she's forced to be the one who creates a system, who writes her rules and who becomes the authority. Anyway, it's not her thing. She's not cut to be a boss. She can't be a general because she cares too much. She loves too much. The softest muscle in her body is her heart. Love is her greatest gift as a person and her biggest flaw as a general. Angel here is the personification of her problems: the love that leads to disaster. As the story ends, the question remains - has she learned her lessons and closed her heart completely? And, if not, who will help her to heal her physical and emotional wounds? In any case, her story in season 9 has great potential.

Angel. I may be in the minority here, but in my opinion Angel's arc perfectly continues and develops his journey on the show. The shadow of Drogyn looms over the whole Twilight arc. Angel always wanted to be a savior yet sacrificed people on the altar of the "greater good", because he's a big-picture guy. Here his big picture mentality is raised on a global level. Angel's greatest flaw is hubris, and turning into a monster is his cosmic revenge: he became everything he hated and despised. Could there be a bigger punishment? Angel's further journey can be epic. As Shapinglight said once, Joss deconstructs the Angel he doesn't understand to build the Angel he understands. My take is that Joss deconstructs the Angel he isnt interested in to build the Angel he wants to explore. Angel the mission's boyfriend is no more. Angel the flawed, tragic, existential hero has risen.

Giles. The last great watcher. Sacrificed himself in the battle of Starbucks. It was a perfect exit. A fitting, heroic death - helping Buffy to stop the apocalypse, with a slayer weapon in his hands. My heart hurts for Giles - but, cerebrally, I understand that his death was long overdue. Every hero journey includes the death of the hero's menthor. Dumbledor, Obi Wan Kenobi, John Winchester die so that Harry, Luc, Dean and Sam could grow up. There are exceptions, of course - Gandalf who died and got resurrected. So who knows, maybe Giles has reunited with Ethan in their dreamspace and will be back in season 8 as Buffy's mystical guide.

Faith. Many fans have suggested that Faith could be Angel's guide on his path to redemption. Agree - such arc would've informed their dynamics with a perfect symmetry. My only gripe about it is that they're too similar - both are dark, intense, brooding. Angel is the most interesting when he's in a scene with Cordy or Spike - somebody with an opposite personality. But Faith has chemistry with practically everybody - so, if Joss plans to add her to AtS as a regular, it could work great.

Willow. Could she save the world by joining her magic with the Seed's power? Xander and Andrew think that they're losing the war - but they can't know for sure. Willow definitely doesn't think they're losing until the Seed is broken. I think it will be the future bone of contention between her and Buffy. Willow could accuse Buffy that she, Willow, had a chance to win the war and to heal the Earth, and to fix everything, and maybe even resurrect Giles - but Buffy's actions made it impossible. And we'll never know if it's true or Willow is delusional. And Buffy still doesn't know that Willow didn't tell her that destroying the Seed was an option. An option that could prevent many deaths including Giles'. Great set-up for the next season. Besides, Kennedy's line "Baby, lie still, I think you broke..." may mean that wheelchair-bound Muffit in "Willow" one-shot was an ominous foreshadowing.

Xander. I feel underwhelmed, frankly, because the previous issue clearly set him up as the destroyer of the Seed. But it's curious that Giles decision to act echoes Xander's own concerns in "Becoming 2" that prompted his much-argued "kick his ass" line. "Xander, it's Angel." Giles says. "At the very least she - she'll hesitate. She wants to stop him, not to kill him." This little exchange casts a different light on "Becoming 2" and it's a really great call-back.

Dawn. In the latest interview Scott Allie said that there will be more deaths, and Dawn is the prime candidate. First, because she has a nice, healthy relationship with Xander. Second, because her death will hit hard both Buffy and Xander, straining their relationship. Third, because, judging by season 8, Joss doesn't know what to do with Dawn and doesn't have more stories for her. And, fourth, because her death at the time of the destruction of the seed will create an eternal mystery: did she die because of her wounds or because of the broken Seed? It would be a perfect exit. (Update: Except Allie said in a TFAW interview that Dawn is okay. )

Seasonal theme. According to Scott Allie, the theme of the season is betrayal. I think it's one of the themes, but not the main one. To me season 8 was about the power corrupting and destroying even the best heroes and champions. On the narrative level Joss used the theme to return to BtVS roots, to make his show as lean and mean as it was in season 1, to get rid of 2000 of annoying extras nobody cared about. Vintage Buffy is an outsider. To tell new stories about her Joss had to return her to her initial status - and he succeeded.

Twilight. There is a lot of interpretations of what Twilight stands for. Maybe because I'm a ficwriter, I interpret Twilight as a metaphor of fanon trying to destroy canon. A paradize, created by smut writers that threatens to melt and devour "official", canonical universe. Fanon is a place where characters can be happy, don't have conflicts, can shape reality according to their wishes. But Happy Reality not a healthy place for a storyteller. To tell a compelling story you need conflict. Of course, I remember that Joss encourages fans to write fanfiction - but he could give us a subliminal warning about the danger of a conflict-less universe that has a tendency to turn characters into puppets.

And, as a ficwriter, I'm incredibly happy about the Seed of Wonder. Just think of it, my fellow ficwriters - it was there, in the underground caves, all the time, unguarded since The Master's death in Prophecy Girl till the end of the TV show. It canonically justifies any outlandish plot twist a writer comes up with - just make a character get lost in the tunnels, see a strange red orb and say something indiscreet in its presence. Thank you, Joss!

And, last but not least...

Spike. Not his season, not his story - yet he has he been brought to the finale. I think it happened for the same reason that Joss included him in his threesome panel in issue #3. To remind us that Spike is still in Buffy's heart. That Buffy is still Spike's hero. To show us that they profoundly care about each other and are perfect morons when it comes to their feelings. That Buffy is very angry that Spike didn't contact her. That he is very angry at her for space-frak. These two crazy kids are king and queen of miscommunication. It will be interesting to see what else Joss plans to do with them. They have a ton of unresolved issues, oceans of UST and it's obvious that their chemistry transcends mediums. And, BTW, his reaction "She did it. Slayer, you did it" implies that it was the plan he was talking about while Buffy was daydreaming.

No, I don't think there will be flowers and puppies for Spuffy in the future. May I remind you about a classic Joss scene in Serenity? It's obvious that Mal loves Inara and Inara loves Mal. Their UST is so thick you can cut it with a knife. But she leaves and then a bad guy makes a trap for Mal and forces Inara to call him and to lure into a trap. Mal's reaction after their conversation:

Kaylee Frye: But how can you be sure Inara don't just want to see you? Sometimes people have feelings. I'm referring here to people.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Y'all were watching I take it?
Kaylee Frye: Yes?
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee Frye: No.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Trap.

That's my Spuffy. Always snarking and bantering. Always honest with each other about everything but their hearts' desires. Always destined to dance around each other, afraid to approach too closely. Always teasing us with millions of "what-ifs".

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