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Review of Buffy 8.01

18th March 2007 (22:56)

I posted this first on atbvs, and thought people here might be interested too. It's my detailed review of 'The Long Way Home' Part 1, also known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 episode 1.

 



I should note, firstly, that I'm not a comics fan: other than Fray and Serenity: Those Left Behind I've not read any of the Jossverse comics (and very few others in any genre). That means that technical details of art and lettering are not my forté, nor will I be drawing any comparisons to other comics. I'm approaching this review entirely as a fan of the TV show.

As such, my first thought is "Ooh! Pretty cover!" I note that Buffy's still got the Scythe, and that she's actually smiling. Which promises continuity from Season 7, but also that we (hopefully) will be moving in different directions in terms of characterisation and plot. The opening shot of sunrise and Buffy's comment confirms that.

At long last, the Buffyverse is alive again. :)

So, the initial scene is the one that was released a while back as a teaser, and so it's been pretty much discussed to death already. We start in medias res with Buffy and three other Slayers jumping out of a helicopter, all kitted out in expensive and high-tech equipment. Clearly there's a backstory here, which hopefully we'll discover, but I've got no problem in getting things started this way. Meanwhile, Buffy gives us the set-up for the people reading this who don't already know what happened on the TV show (both of them). And yeah, we get the big reveal about 'The Girl In Question'. Hee.

I note that Buffy isn't wearing a bulletproof vest like the others, just a sleeveless red top. Can anyone make out what the yellow pattern on the front is?

Fun fact #1: there are 1800 Slayers now, of whom 500 are working for Buffy's organisation (in 10 squads).

Cut to Xander (or "Mr Harris" as he's now called, rather to his discomfort.) I liked the banter between him and Renée; very cute, and shows that Xander seems to have adjusted fairly well to his new life. (Cue howls of anguish from Anya fans). There's something very
anime-like in Xander as the sole man in a control room with lots of bleeping consoles manned by young women. I wonder if they're all Slayers?

Fun fact #2: Andrew is currently in southern Italy, in charge of a squad of Slayers and under Xander's orders.

Now for the episode's big fight scene, and Buffy actually showing tactical and even (gasp) leadership abilities! Yay for her! Not to mention some assorted badassery, especially the bit with the cross.

One thing I'm not liking is all the accents. I know why it's necessary - Joss wants to get across that this is a group of people
from all over the world, and if all you have is dialogue there's no real way to do it otherwise. Still, "Yeh dinno much about religion, do yeh?" and "Vhat are you thinkink?" are a tad grating.

So, we've got a mysterious symbol, self-sacrificial victims (handy for the cultist in a rush), a high-tech forcefield in a ruined church, and a flying spy. Tune in next week...

Cut to the next scene, and apparently the US Army regards Buffy and the Slayers as dangerous terrorists. Interesting twist... of course, as soon as we see them sending investigators down into the Hellmouth Crater we know something bad's going to happen. Fairly routine, that part, I thought.

Now back to Buffy and Xander doing research - and Buffy's actually eating something, which makes a pleasant change... And apparently
Willow's gone missing, and BX don't know where she is. Presumably she's not in Rio with Kennedy, then? And Xander's still being the wise one.

Then we get to see Dawn, which is... interesting. When I first read Joss's comment that Dawn would have "grown" in the comics as a result of her first sexual encounter, I assumed (and dreaded) that she'd have a mystical pregnancy. The reality is much more funny. (Guess that S8's statutory mystical pregnancy will be in a later episode, then).

I do like the four-panel effect here, with Buffy in a different pose in each one and Dawn spread across all four. I also thought the dialogue was pretty in-character for them. Especially liked Buffy's retort about Dawn's butt looking big (and her regret afterwards, and the hints that not all is good between them) and the remark about 'since when is Willow the expert on boys?'

Incidentally, it's been questioned why Dawn's clothes grew along with her, especially if her new condition was a result of having sex with some sort of mystical being (whatever a 'thricewise' might be), in which case presumably she'd be naked at the time. My guess would be, first, "it's magic" and next, that the effect might not have happened immediately. I presume we'll find out more eventually.

Fun fact #3: Dawn is supposed to be at Berkeley. One assumes that's the University of California campus near San Francisco, and not some other Berkeley... and not Rome after all.

Final Buffy scene, and the notorious line about her missing "the sex". Given that she also says she misses her mother, it could be that she's talking about season 5 here as well; and it's Riley-sex she's missing... Or something that happened post-Chosen but pre-Scotland.
*(Sticks tongue out at Spuffistas ;) )*

And so, the end of the episode, and the mysterious government laboratory holding Amy and her 'boyfriend', who's being kept alive by magic.

I assume it's Amy the Ex-Rat (the reference to cheese is a clue) but I wouldn't have recognised her from the picture. No idea who the boyfriend is, and the floor is open for speculation. I'm even wondering if she's somehow tamed a Turok-han. Or maybe revived one or both halves of Caleb. Looks like Amy and Friend will be at least the Little Bad of the season, even if they're not the Big Bad.

Final thoughts... interesting. There are a lot of questions being floated, and a lot of storylines set in motion. I'm definitely curious to see where all this takes us.

Rating: Good.

Comments

Posted by: spikeNdru (spikendru)
Posted at: 18th March 2007 23:57 (UTC)
Exercisebylondonsbadass

Incidentally, it's been questioned why Dawn's clothes grew along with her, especially if her new condition was a result of having sex with some sort of mystical being (whatever a 'thricewise' might be), in which case presumably she'd be naked at the time.

Maybe it's the same effect that allowed invisible Buffy to find all of her invisible clothes, which were presumably strewn all over Spike's crypt in "Gone"? Thanks for this review. I'm not a comics fan, so hadn't planned to buy these, as I wasn't impressed with the Spike and Angel comic books I did buy, but it's nice to know what's going on.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 00:36 (UTC)

Maybe it's the same effect that allowed invisible Buffy to find all of her invisible clothes, which were presumably strewn all over Spike's crypt in "Gone"?
You don't think Little Miss Tightly-Wound would have folded them neatly and stacked them on the chair, then? :)

Like I said, I'm not normally a comics fan either; I suppose you could say I've fallen for the excellent marketing behind these ones... but even so: brand-new original Buffy marterial written by Joss himself? How could I not read it??

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 15:36 (UTC)

She could have walked home naked. Except she has her original outfit on when they visiblise her. Or maybe she's not invisible to herself. Or Spike used his amazing fanon sniffer dog powers to track down all but the essential items for her.

Posted by: yourlibrarian (yourlibrarian)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 18:08 (UTC)
Chosen: andemaiar

Just to pop in here -- sadly while fanon is responsible for many things I'd just as soon not read again, the nasal powers seemed to be hammered home in S7 when (A) Angel smells Spike's presence (he said he smelled him on Buffy but given how much time had passed I'd bet it was from Spike's actual lurking self) and (B) Spike tracks Buffy's departure from Casa Summers hours after she left. Frankly that whole scent thing always annoyed me because it made me wonder what was wrong with their noses in earlier seasons when people could sneak up on them or elude them without tipping them off.

As to the OP, yeah the accents do seem a bit cartoonish (some pun intended). The joke about the cross though was pretty funny. Above all I enjoyed the humor in this, it's been missed.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:18 (UTC)

You got me :-) I think my problem with fic is the way the smelling superpowers are constantly *on* whereas you can just about wank their cannon appearences by assuming that it's a sense vampires have to actively focus on to use. And that Angel is more focussed more often than Spike.

Posted by: yourlibrarian (yourlibrarian)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:20 (UTC)
Handsoff: vampirellabites

LOL! There's no question all sorts of powers get dramatically enhanced in fic ;>

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:20 (UTC)

She could have walked home naked. Except she has her original outfit on when they visiblise her.
Maybe she keeps several identical outfits in her closet. :)
(A habit learned in her younger days, when she would often damage her clothes on nightly patrols, but then still have to convince her mother nothing was amiss...)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 07:08 (UTC)
Smile Fan by buttersideup

Nice review! :) I actually have the comic downloaded and one of these days I'll get round to reading it. Although I kinda know it all know! ;) Oh and I read someone speculating that Amy's boyfriend is Warren. Wouldn't that be amazing? Willow should start wearing kevlar...

*(Sticks tongue out at Spuffistas ;) )*
Sorry, but it's All. About. Spike. And what's more - I'm going to prove it later on today!

Elisi,
The Queen of Meta

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:23 (UTC)

but it's All. About. Spike.

We're talking about the comic here, not Livejournal. :) Anyway, a lot of it's about Xander; I'm sure Buffy got the Odin reference from him. It's the kind of thing he'd say.

Maybe Willow's gone missing because she knows about Warren?

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:51 (UTC)
Smile Fan by buttersideup

I'm sure Buffy got the Odin reference from him. It's the kind of thing he'd say.
Oh quite probably. But meta-wise</i>... it's Spike.

Maybe Willow's gone missing because she knows about Warren?
She's a smart girl. ;)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 4th April 2007 07:41 (UTC)

Actually Buffy artist Georges Jeanty confirmed to somone that the sex comment wasn't in reference to Spike or anyone specifically or in particular.She was just missing sex in general.

http://www.smgboard.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=21236&st=25

"Georges Jeanty has been chit-chatting with a friend of mine and he said it was meant to be a general statement about sex from her, so yeah who wouldn't miss it after what, 2 & 1/2 years. LOL"

http://whedonesque.com/comments/12727


"I will say that a friend of mine emailed Georges (the guy who worked on the comic) and even HE confirmed that the "that sex" line was a general statement meant to show that Buffy - as a grownup now - does indeed just miss sex as it's been a while for her. No specific person in mind."

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 4th April 2007 08:05 (UTC)
gratification by buttersideup.

Aw, don't ruin my lovely meta with something as mundane as facts! ;)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 13:01 (UTC)
Strength of his hero by mysteryof

Can anyone make out what the yellow pattern on the front is?

It's the Serenity sign. :)

My favorite quotes are in the scenes between Buffy-Xander, Buffy-Dawn and Xander-Renee.

I still don't wanna list all the quotes now, so I'll give one:

Xander: Xander, Renee, I told you it's Xander or 'Sergeant Fury.'

Renee: Wasn't Nick Fury a Colonel when he ran S.H.I.El.D?

Xander: I liked him better in The Howling Commando days. But your nerd points are accumulating impressively.

Renee: (sly) I try, Sergeant.

These are my thoughts 'character!wise' about the comic, won't talk about the plot at all.

I really liked Xander's role in these comics as a commander. Someone once suggested that Xander would be a watcher, but I don't see him as one simply because he's not much of a bookish person. Buffy seems to believe that Xander is her watcher, which makes me interested in how she sees Giles. How exactly her relationship with him is, after S7, the only Scooby Buffy seems close to is Xander and it shows in these comics. I hope her relationship with Willow and Giles develops into the better.

I feel bad for Buffy's relationship with Dawn. It seems they grew apart, as Dawn trusts Willow more as an 'older sister' than she does Buffy. It also seems to hurt Buffy that Dawn talks to Willow about her problems and not with her.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th March 2007 19:38 (UTC)

You're right about the logo - at least, it's not the actual Serenity logo as painted on the side of the spaceship, but if you look closely you can see the Chinese characters for 'serenity' are written across it. :)

(One of the first drabbles I ever wrote involved Willow downloading an episode of Firefly, so this makes me particularly happy...)

And I pretty much agree with everything you said about the characterisation.

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