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(Review) BtVS 8.37 'Last Gleaming' Part 2

7th October 2010 (20:52)

Aww. Connor has a younger sister now. How sweet. Also, all this talk of gates and keys reminded me of this little snippet:

Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again... They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness... As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.

Anyway, on with the review!


Seen in full profile, Spike's ship looks like a fish with an underbite. I'm sure it reminds me of something else too - maybe from a video game? - but I can't place it. Notice, also, that the ship is flying against a background of the setting sun - Twilight, in other words.

The next scene has been much discussed already. Buffy and Spike are completely comfortable and intimate together moments after meeting, to the extent that she's happy to use his private shower next to his bedroom. It does seem, though, that Spike's bed is rumpled and unmade because he's a slob rather than because he and Buffy spent the last half hour wrinkling the sheets together, as some people had speculated. Note that he has a couple of celebrity gossip magazines on his table, including a copy of Harmony's personal magazine, and that Buffy is now wearing the clothes she had on in her vision in 'Anywhere But Here'.

The story is coming full circle as we head back to Sunnydale, just as we did in 'The Long Way Home' - although in that one, Buffy was homesick while now she wishes she could move on.

At this point Spike goes into exposition mode to explain what's been going on, which I'm sorry to say is about on a par with the season plot of, say, Season 7, or Season 5, or... actually, it's a pretty standard 'Buffy' season finale bit of phlebotnum. Magical artefact, everybody wants it, must be protected, apocalypse imminent, yadda yadda. It's probably best if I extract some of the key statements from the text:

  • "The source of all magic in the world. The world came from the Seed."
  • "The Seed kept it here. Kept the warring nasties and the bubbling magical energies from seeping back into the old dimension, wherever that was."
  • "With the Seed removed, the gate opens wide. Mother Earth destroyed so the new world can thrive."
  • "The Earth demons won't want the new-universe demons to get it."
  • "From the moment that Seed was planted, Twilight was an inevitability. Everything has a lifespan."

What I'm getting from this is that the universe (or multiverse, perhaps) is cyclical, and what's happening here with Twilight has happened at least once before, to create our own Earth. The Seed came into the new universe - our Earth - and served a dual purpose. It created magic and allowed the world to form, but it also kept out demons from other dimensions who would otherwise have invaded Earth. Like the cork in Spike's analogy, the Seed both keeps magic (wine) in the bottle, and also keeps foreign contaminants out of the bottle.

However, Buffy and Angel have created a new universe. My assumption is that what Spike refers to as the "new-universe demons", but may actually be the living personification of it as seen on the last page, want to take the Seed and move it into the new universe. The new universe would then get the benefits Earth used to receive from the Seed - magic exists and flourishes, and external Hell-dimensions are prevented from swallowing up the new world - while Earth loses them and is destroyed. Presumably this is exactly what happened to the former Earth when the Seed came to our own world all those years ago.

There's a certain level of logical disconnect in Spike blaming Buffy and Angel for creating the new universe, when he also says it was inevitable and that maybe Earth's time is just up. It's understandable, though; even if something is bound to happen sooner or later it's natural to blame the people who actually trigger it. I did like Spike's wine metaphor, both for Buffy's snarky response and the fact that Spike stubbornly doesn't give up on it but tries to use it on Xander too. It's interesting that he's taking the time to explain it to him, for that matter, speaking to the level of grudging respect they established in S7, even though Spike can't resist a sarcastic dig by calling him "little man". How does he know how big Xander is, anyway? He can't be talking about height given that Xander is taller than him. :D

Spike being a connoisseur of wine is a nice little character touch - he's not just a thug and womaniser after all, at least not when Joss and Scott are writing him. Madeira is an interesting choice since it's a wine that was specially developed for long journeys on board ships back in the Age of Sail (which is why it keeps so long, and 70-year old Madeira is still drinkable), and also because when William Pratt was alive it was quite expensive and exclusive, but in the 20th century became unfashionable and was generally considered only fit for use in cooking. Nice bit of research there, unless it was a happy coincidence. In the same vein, Spike mocking Buffy (and Angel) for never getting a higher education was a shrewd dig - and also confirmation, were it needed (the guy speaks Latin, after all...), that Spike as a human did get a good education.

Buffy is definitely feeling the guilt over her recent discovery that having sex with Angel triggered the apocalypse, though she's not regretting the sex itself. (At least she has the class to apologise to Spike for bringing it up in front of him though.) Her description of what it was like under the effects of the glow probably won't convince anyone who's already made their mind up one way or the other about the consent issues, if any, raised there - but for what it's worth, it consolidates my own view of them too. I think the analogy the writers were going for was two people swept up by uncontrollable hormone-inspired lust and doing something silly as a result, rather than the two of them being drugged into insensibility by a malicious third party for sexual purposes. The way Buffy reacts to her memory of the event here certainly supports the view, as does her chalking up her sex fantasies about Spike to "after-effects".

I'm guessing the reference to "You were the guy I told the things I wasn't supposed to tell" is specifically a call-back to "I think I was in heaven", though I'm sure there were other examples too. I'm also sure this particular scene has been much discussed in the reviews of the issue I've not read yet, so I'll keep this fairly brief... I do think it sums up the Buffy/Spike relationship perfectly as I understand it. Even down to the misunderstanding when Spike assumes she's fantasising about Angel, not him, and Buffy doesn't correct him out of embarrassment. A tragic lost opportunity there... Also, I want to say that Buffy's dialogue is perfect here; I can just imagine Sarah's voice saying these lines.

I know it's been suggested that Buffy's still under the influence of the glow here - in fact, she herself refers to "after-effects". Given that my interpretation of the glow is, as I said above, basically that Buffy's feeling loved-up and lustful due to a supernatural charge of hormones rather than that it's overriding her willpower, I don't see that as a negative here. Buffy might not be having quite such vivid and urgent sexual fantasies right there and then if she weren't still under some mystical influence, but the thoughts are still coming from her own libido, not some outside force. Note also that she's able to control herself - she doesn't rip Spike's clothes off for real. On another note, I'm also reminded of the scene in 'Always Darkest' where Buffy supposedly can't tell Spike and Angel apart, and the idea that Spike is a wild card in the Twilight prophecy because as a vampire with a soul loved by Buffy he also qualifies as a candidate for ascension. (Except maybe he's inherently less gullible than Angel when it comes to ancient prophecies told to him by mystical guides?)

Dawn's still freaking out adorably about the giant bugs, and Xander talks to her about the two of them moving in together after the battle's over and living as a couple. As any student of narrative tropes will know, this paints a huge "I'm going to die soon" bullseye on Dawn's chest, even if we hadn't already seen the cover for the next issue. Mind you, given that Joss has built his career around subverting narrative tropes, I'm hoping for some sort of twist - even if it's his own trope he's got to subvert here.

A few interesting points about Xander - he's offering to support Dawn through college and live with her, but he's not proposing marriage yet. Learned his lesson from Anya, perhaps? Also, if they're already discussing living together it's a reasonable assumption that they've started sleeping together already, wouldn't you say? But we haven't seen any sign of this on the page - making this the first sexual relationship involving a core Scooby where their first time together wasn't shown to the audience. Finally, he's willing to leave the Slayer organisation - and most importantly, leave Buffy - to go and live with Dawn in a normal life. I wonder if her confessing her feelings for him back in 'Turbulence ' has been any influence on that? Plus, of course, it's setting him up as a possible betrayer, since his plans no longer coincide with hers.

The general obviously has an evil plan, unless he's sneaking into the ventilation ducts purely to get away from the hideous sight of Warren and Amy snogging.

Angel's over in Japan helping Slayers, like a true superhero - except when he drops the monster head, he negligently manages to soak the Slayers in blood and gore. So nothing hugely symbolic and metaphorical going on there, then... I did like the demon about to come out with a dryly witty one-liner just before Angel killed it - that felt very BtVS.

More exposition; I've mentioned the Spike/Xander interchange already, but notice Willow comforting Giles, Buffy noticing her sister is unhappy and looking concerned, Xander stubbornly refusing to accept that the world's about to end, and Buffy noticing straight away that something bad is happening to Willow. Buffy is no longer in a world of her own (literally...) she's re-engaging with her friends and family. At first reading I wondered if the portal apparently opening behind Spike's head was a flashback to the Twilight prophecy, since that's what he's talking about: but now with more context I think it's probably Saga Vasuki opening the portal she's about to summon Willow through.

I smiled at Willow's call-back to 'Time Of Your Life' (The 'other way' to reach Aluwyn's home dimension is, of course, for Willow to have an orgasm). Some minor points about this scene: Willow and Aluwyn call each other by those names, but Aluwyn pointedly doesn't use anybody else's actual name, referring only to "the vampire" and "the Watcher". That implies to me either friendship or respect as equals, or both. Second, when we saw her last Aluwyn's eyes were solid white without pupils, but here they're solid black (with a white reflection, unless that's actually a pupil). Continuity error by the colourist, or some sort of clue? It's not like Willow's own eyes don't turn black on occasion, so I'm not willing to dismiss it automatically as just an error. Finally, and this is purely me having a mental age of 13, I was impressed by Willow' restraint in not once glancing at Aluwyn's big bare green boobies right in front of her. :-)

On a more substantive note, we have plot development and sowing the seed (hah!) of a possible intra-Scoobies conflict. We're informed that while taking the Seed of Wonder into the new dimension will allow Earth to be overrun with demons and destroyed, breaking the Seed won't be a good thing either - at least not from the point of view of magical creatures like Aluwyn or Willow herself. However, while destroying the seed will take away Willow's powers and prevent Saga Vasuki from intervening on Earth ever again, it will also make Earth safe from any more extra-dimensional attacks. I can see several members of Buffy's team think that's a price well worth paying - Xander and Dawn, for sure, maybe Giles too; not sure about Buffy. Willow is unlikely to see things the same way...

This scene sets up Willow herself as another candidate for the betrayer. She doesn't believe she will be, of course - hence why she presses Aluwyn for who it is; but notice that Aluwyn seems reluctant to reply, and also sorrowful? She obviously cares about Willow, and apparently thinks that revealing the name will hurt her as much as it will hurt Buffy. If Buffy decided at the last minute to break the Seed, would Willow try and stop her? And would she be unable to forgive her if Buffy broke it anyway?

On a plot note: presumably breaking the Seed ends magic because the Seed is the source of it. So why wouldn't taking the Seed into the new universe also end magic on Earth? I'm going to assume the answer is that "Earth-style" magic - the kind Giles and the Coven taught Willow to use in Season 7 - is what the Seed provides. However, if it's taken away from Earth but the dimensional walls are left open, then other kinds of magic - darker magic? - can still be drawn in from those Hell dimensions. Also, I don't know how far to trust the cork metaphor, but breaking a cork in a bottle doesn't cause the cork to disappear, it merely, as Aluwyn says, means you can't get it out again. so possibly "destroying" the Seed actually means spreading its substance around the Earth so that it can no longer be manipulated or controlled, it's just a permanent blockage.

Notice that Aluwyn is talking about Twilight as a person again, just as I'd got used to thinking of it as the name of an event...

Willow returns to consciousness and tells Buffy, with a worried look, that "We have to protect the Seed". Unless she does it off-camera, notice that she doesn't explain that destroying the Seed will, in fact, save the world, but have bad effects for Willow personally. Oh, Willow...

Apparently Angel's now in France, or possibly Quebec. I'm quite relieved that the series has moved on from the early days of S8, and the writers didn't try to represent the French Slayer's accent on the page phonetically... Him avoiding the embarrassing need to explain that it's his fault the world is in trouble by zooming off is classic Angel - see also the first issue of 'After The Fall'. Angel complaining that now he smells like the disgusting demon - more symbolism? But he's atoning for his past misdeeds, which is what Angel likes to do.

I suspect it's not a coincidence that the dialogue on this page goes: "But you were right, Buffy. I do need this." "Faith".

Georges Jeanty's ability to draw Faith seems to waver alarmingly on this page; in some frames she's totally recognisable, in others she looks utterly different. Giles obviously has some sort of plan which he's briefed Faith about previously - and Faith isn't happy about it, presumably because it involves more violence and killing which she wants to get away from. This, of course, is setting up Giles as the betrayer (and Faith too, but I don't think that she'd be "the most unexpected" in Buffy's eyes) since his plan might not be anything Buffy would like. Why else would he need Faith on his side otherwise?

Spike's glee at seeing Sunnydale Crater ("Did I do all of this?") and the big battle contrasts nicely with Buffy's lingering guilt and resignation. The battlescene was actually a little too uncluttered to look exciting to my taste, although it's interesting to see the US Army fighting demons for a change. :-) Spike's dialogue with the bugs was as funny as ever, although I must admit to thinking "Why's Spike saying "center" instead of "centre", he's supposed to be British!" then realising that the two spellings are pronounced exactly the same way...

Buffy looking all heroic and determined, while her internal voice is actually more concerned about Spike groping her, is highly amusing. Especially since we can see that Spike is actually clinging on for dear life and Buffy's bottom is probably the last thing on his mind right then. (Though he does make an off-colour sexual joke afterwards, typically enough.) I wonder why Willow waited instead of jumping out at the same time as Buffy - apart from narrative convenience, of course. Xander doesn't want to get left behind; it's left unclear what happens next. Willow could presumably carry him and fly down, but I doubt she could also carry Giles, Faith and Dawn who are also standing there at the same time. Unless she teleports instead? Or just waits for the ship to land...

Enter the Master... or at least someone who looks like the Master. Spike mentioned that the Seed has "its protector at its side". So either the Master was the Seed's protector all along, and has been resurrected somehow to serve it - or the Seed's protector has taken the form of the only Big Bad who actually managed to kill Buffy in order to freak her out. It doesn't work, of course. Incidentally, it may or may not be significant that the protector doesn't speak with the special 'vampire font' the comics usually use when vampires are in game face - omission or clue that he's not really the Master? Spike's speech isn't in that font either, but that could be because in the scene where he speaks he's actually in the act of vamping out, and the next time he speaks he's gone back to human face.

The protector seems to be under the mistaken impression that Buffy has come to take the Seed away to her new universe, and he's here to stop her doing that. Ironically, they may actually be on the same side... but Spike and Buffy, in their individual ways, both come off as pretty badass in this scene, so hey.

I'm disappointed that Buffy said "You were talking about power?" rather than something involving the words "It's about power", because then I'd have another version of the quote to decorate my LJ with...

And finally, we meet the entity which surely, surely, has to be the actual Big Bad of the season. I mean, there's only three more issues to go after this... It's the same chimera that appeared in Buffy's Slayerdream in 'No Future For You', saying the line, "The queen is dead, long live the queen". At the time I assumed that was a reference to the conflict between Buffy and Gigi to be leader of the Slayers, but given that Aluwyn repeats the same line in this episode when talking to Willow, it's clear it's a reference to the new universe replacing the old one. The entity is the personification of that new universe... and just as Spike warned, she's come looking for her parents. Since this entity is presumably the 'queen' we're talking about, and her body seems to resemble that of a lioness (female lion), I'm going to assume until further notice that the entity is coded female.

The talking animals were Angel's daughter talking to him... but was Whistler too? Or was Whistler a genuine envoy from the Powers That Be?

She thinks of Angel as her father - and Buffy, presumably, as her mother - hence my remark at the start of the review about Connor now having a sister. Or half-sister, technically. We also learn that the entity seen talking to Angel back at the start of this arc was, in fact, the uncreated universe, travelling back through time to persuade her own father to conceive her. Can we say "time paradox"? It's quite reminiscent of the whole Jasmine arc, in fact, with Angel being manipulated through prophecies (again). So far, the new universe's only motive seems to be the desire to exist and survive... the catch being, that to do so she needs the Seed of Wonder.

So, it look like she's about to tell Angel he has to steal the Seed from Buffy and give it to his daughter. Which of course means that just like Willow, Xander, Dawn and Giles, Angel is also being set up to be the closest, most unexpected betrayer. In other words, it's probably going to be either Spike or Buffy herself, since they're the only ones not set up as candidates this issue. Or it'll be all of them at once, in best Agatha Christie stylee...
 

 


Comments

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:10 (UTC)
Twangel by moscow_watcher

Aww. Connor has a younger sister now. How sweet.
Considering that Twangel has clearly decided that he doesn't give a fig about his eldest, I'd be very careful if I was Twilight - Daddy is a tad on the fickle side...

Edited at 2010-10-07 20:11 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:31 (UTC)

Angel loves Connor but it's always seemed to me that he loves him because he's his son not because he's Connor. He doesn't know Connor. He never saw him grow up and since Connor's return most of their interactions have involved Angel pushing Connor away for one reason or another. To teach him a lesson, to save him from himself, to keep him safe, there's always been a good fatherly reason but that's not the same as a Connorly reason.

In that light the idea that the new universe is his child makes everything he's done fall into place. Angel as Twilight is simply being a good father to a child who will never disappoint him in the way Connor did, never stop needing him and never grow up because he/she is pure metaphor.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:37 (UTC)
Father and son by andemaiar

I don't think Connor disappointed him. ETA: If we take AtF as canon to tie in with s8 (the Lynch issues, I've not read the other so can't say), then Connor is anything but a disappointment, having proved himself a hero many times over, saving the people of LA!

So I think Angel feels that he failed Connor in pretty much every way, and feels very guilty about that. And not wanting to fail Twilight might be the key here. (Esp since he abandoned Connor to die, y'know? Oh my Angel, what HAVE the nasty writers done to you...)

Edited at 2010-10-07 20:48 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 21:35 (UTC)

Angel is always abandoning Connor.

I never got past issue 3 of AtF so whether it's canon or not and if it is how to interpret it I can't say. In what I have read of Lynch he take on the characters is quite different from mine. His Illyria is particularly unrecognisable, his Angel is just dull. However, whether or not Connor was heroic in AtF he clearly does have the potential to fuck up so badly that Angel feels the only solution is to ritually kill him in order to mystically reprogramme him. To fix him, to make him the Connor he imagined was possible when he was a miracle baby.

Moreover, Connor is mortal, his death is inevitable. Angel can't save him from that. The new baby sister on the other hand will eternally be whatever Angel imagines her to be, that's how she works. She's his chance to make it it right.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 21:38 (UTC)
Angel - river runs deep by miz_thang88

I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on the Connor & Angel issues. (Connor was *stolen* from him, something S 3-4 Connor very clearly blamed Angel for, and something Angel blames himself for.)

Although I can definitely see Twilight as Angel's opportunity to do things right.

Edited at 2010-10-07 21:55 (UTC)

Posted by: Lexi (eilowyn)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:06 (UTC)
Amy River and the Doctor

Angel loves Connor but it's always seemed to me that he loves him because he's his son not because he's Connor. He doesn't know Connor

You could equally say Angel doesn't love Buffy because he knows her but because she's his true love. I don't want to delve into my lesser shipper rage-y or Angel hate-y self, but it's a fact that even Buffy acknowledges that he doesn't know her - and he doesn't see that she even needs a "dark place."

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:35 (UTC)

I could although I'd phrase it differently. Angel loves Buffy because she's his salvation and (more recently) the mother of his child. I don't think romance is Angel's main driving force. If he were a stick of Brighton rock he's have "demon daddy" not "demon lover" written right though him.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:38 (UTC)

I think that's fair comment on Angel's feelings for both Connor and Buffy - he loves them for what they represent, not for who they are as people. Bear in mind Angel is over 250 years old, and has seen most of the people he loved die (many because he killed them himself, but still), and his natural mode is to sit in the darkness and brood. He can be pushed out of it - by a Buffy, a Doyle, a Cordelia - but he always tends to sink back ther if he's not pushed. Angel is not a people person.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:40 (UTC)

Angel is going to cut Twilight's throat and make everybody forget she ever existed?

Yes, some people would love that last part at least...

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 05:57 (UTC)
Bangel4evah by zanthinegirl

I was more thinking about the fact that as far as s8 is concerned, Connor never existed. Or at least had zero impact on Angel's decision making [if it can be so termed]. So if s9 rolls around and Twilight is never mentioned again, it wouldn't surprise me. ;)

Edited at 2010-10-08 06:06 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:19 (UTC)

Great review, as always.

Working backwards: I don't think we should work back from what the audience expects in order to arrive at the candidates left to "surprise" us. As with Twilight the shock won't so much be the who as it will be the how and why. Judging from Jeanty's Q&A and other interviews, it looks grim for Angel. We'll see. It'll happen in some twisty way. But Jeanty isn't crushed if Spike turns out to be a bad guy. Nor is the Bangel-centric editor going to feel ill if Spike's the bad guy. After thought: Unless Spike the bad guy permanently kills either Buffy or Angel -- but neither of them seem likely to be permanently dead.

Buffy, OTOH, is still in the running.

I was trying to figure out why I coded the baby 'verse as male, and arrived at his mane (or what I took to be a mane). Lionnesses don't have them. But I think I'll go with you on female. She's likely to be the 'queen' and it'd explain why she thought it was so cool to have balls.

Finally, I do think there's something to Buffy not being able to tell the vampires apart in Always Darkest and the Master's confusion here. It'll be interesting to see if it gets picked up as a theme.



Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:50 (UTC)

Thanks!

Regarding who the betrayer(s) will be - it definitely seemed to me that Joss and Scott were deliberately and cleverly setting it up so everybody had a reason to be the one... so for it to turn out to be one of te very few main charaters they *didn't* set up that way just seemd the kind of thing Jos would delight in. But I do think it's more likely to be Buffy herself than Spike... or all of them.

I don't think Georges or Sierra would only be crushed by 8.39 if it's for shipping reasons. The bad stuff in 8.39 might not even be the betrayal: maybe it would be the aftereffects, or some typically Jossian random stupid death in the middle of the battle (see also: Anya, Wash, Penny, Paul).

I thought it looked like a mane too, but it's a glowing green halo around her neck rather than glowing green hair. Mostly it's the queen comment that lead me that way, thouh I like your thought on the balls. :-) Though I think the universe itself is genderless, obviously, even if the form it's taken here is female.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:30 (UTC)

Excellent review as always S.! Just wanted to point to something somebody else mentioned on another board - the Winged Lion creature ( the baby Uni) in fact looks a lot like Angel's tattoo - the St' Mark's lion from the book of Kells. except its mane is glowing magic green - not golden.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:53 (UTC)

Ooh, interesting parallel. I hope they make something of it, even if it's only that the universe took that form because it knew about the tattoo.

(I did wonder if the *green* glow is some link to Dawn as well, though that might be stretching things.)

Thanks!

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 20:33 (UTC)

Can't really get from Spike having a slightly rumpled bed to Spike being a 'slob.' He always kept his crypt nice. Even Buffy said it was comfy.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 23:04 (UTC)

He has a habit of leaving wet towels lying all over the bathroom floor though: just ask Xander. :-)

To be honest, I think I had Megan Gogerty's "I Think My Roommate Is A Demon With A Soul" running through my head when I chose that word though...

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 21:48 (UTC)

No stomach for S8 at the moment but I'm here to say "Iä, Iä, Iä, ftagn!Yog Sothoth!"

Posted by: Lexi (eilowyn)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:08 (UTC)

*Pats you on the head and tells you that The Game of Thrones will make everything better*

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:46 (UTC)
Cthulhu

A don't worry, as long as I have the great Cthulhu all is fine :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 23:07 (UTC)

Just as long as you don't go calling your father from the top of Sentinel Hill anytime soon...

Posted by: diamondtook (diamondtook862)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 22:06 (UTC)

Thanks so much for your take on the glow. It's the first I've seen that is something close to mine, and it was really encouraging to hear. I think she's attracted to both vampires (she loves both, on some level, much as I prefer to block the Angel-love out of my head and plug my ears), and so the super-crazed sex hormones are dialing her normal feelings up to a hundred and eleven. Or, at least, they did with Angel. I think it's clear they are wearing off bow to some degree (she's aware of them, which she wasn't before), and so she's smarter and more in control with Spike, but still lusty. Nothing is hijacking her free will, but Buffy (I hope) has gotten past the sex and secrecy with Spike to something much more meaningful, which could include sex, but isn't defined by it or dependent on it. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I just had such a hard time with taking her clear statement that she is still feeling the effects of the glow and then taking the sexy thoughts about Spike as some kind of proof of intimacy. The rest is proof of intimacy, the sexy thoughts are glow-induced horniness about someone she is terribly attracted to because of their intimacy. I like that she recognizes what it is and doesn't act on it. I think that's proof of something. I was frustrated that people could argue that Bangel sex was coerced but Spuffy sexy thoughts were spontaneous. I don't see how we can have this pie and eat it too. Either both episodes were glow, and she was freely attracted to them and just enhanced, or both were glow, and she had no free will in either interaction. The text seems to support the first, and I think I'm comfortable with that.

Thanks for the insightful commentary.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 23:04 (UTC)

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I just had such a hard time with taking her clear statement that she is still feeling the effects of the glow and then taking the sexy thoughts about Spike as some kind of proof of intimacy.

I don't think the sexy thoughts are proof of intimacy, so much as how she reacts to them. It's a slight embarrassment that she's so sex-crazed, not something that she's ashamed of because it's her and Spike. And the tone of the fantasy is again informed by her own feelings. Having sexy thoughts about Spike? Not intimacy. How the thoughts manifest? That's where the intimacy reads. And everything else about their interaction, too.

I was frustrated that people could argue that Bangel sex was coerced but Spuffy sexy thoughts were spontaneous. I don't see how we can have this pie and eat it too. Either both episodes were glow, and she was freely attracted to them and just enhanced, or both were glow, and she had no free will in either interaction.

I'm curious who argued that? Because I think while in the past the glowhypnol was more strong on, ever since #36 I for one haven't been as dismissive of the basis for the Bangel sex because it's based on her actual feelings. But that doesn't change the fact that the glow amplified Buffy's feelings and led to actual sex. To me, Buffy's fantasy is less offensive because its her thoughts and she's still in control of herself. Her will is being tampered with, the same way it would be if someone slipped her an aphrodesiac without her consent, but I can enjoy the tenor of what's revealed in the Spike fantasy because it's not leading to dubious consent sex and Buffy's not destructively out of control.

Eh. Part of the reason I'm so happy about the fantasy doesn't have to do with "Zomg sexxors!" but because the narrative finally went there in Buffy POV for a fantasy of sex with Spike post-AR. I don't think that can be taken for granted. The way I most appreciate the fantasy has to do with what it means for the narrative in the larger sense. In the smaller sense, the fantasy has less glow and more Buffy, so it is meaningful in how it manifests, where as what happens with Angel is more glow and animalistic Buffy sexxors--the evil grin and "do it again" doesn't tell me much about who Buffy actually is except that she does have an animalistic dark side buried deep down. And hey, who doesn't?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 23:36 (UTC)

I think that one of the things Joss is doing here with Buffy and Angel is deliberately parodying romance novels. You've got all the tropes lined up one behind the other: star-crossed lovers, love fated for all time, our friends don't understand us, love is all that matters, love can move mountains, swept away by uncontrollable passion, the earth moved for us, we'll be together forever in our own special world, our baby is the most perfect thing in the universe. And every one of them has been either exaggerated or subverted or shown to be a really bad thing. Then you get Spike coming along as the anti-Twilight, in both senses of the word.

So I don't think Buffy was being drugged to the point of losing her willpower in 8.34; she was being swept away by passion in her lover's arms, just like the heroine of a thousand bodice-ripper novels. But if, to an objective outside observer, that looks a bit similar to her being drugged - I think that was deliberate as part of the whole "Hey, you guys, this Twilight stuff isn't exactly healthy" parody Joss was trying to achieve.

Plus, even in this world I suspect (or hope?) that a lot more people have had the experience of being carried away on lust and hormones and gone to bed with someone they later realised they shouldn't have, as opposed to people who've been drugged and raped while they were unconscious?


And hey, who doesn't?

Me! *looks innocent*


Edited at 2010-10-07 23:36 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 00:12 (UTC)

Love sweeping you away from all sense and reason? That is being out of control. And yes, it's a parody of the destructive nature of overwhelming love, especially a love that isn't based on knowing your partner or trusting him based on what you know, but being a slave to your heart, so what can you do?

"Look, lots of people lose themselves in love. It's, it's no
shame. They write songs about it. The hitch is, you can't stay lost... Sooner or later, you... you have to get back to yourself. If you can't... Well, love becomes your master, and you're just its dog."


The glow turns Buffy into love's dog, but in a way she has no control over. Hormones and fantasy love overriding will because of an outside force? The willpower being diminished is objectionable. It's the demonization of love and lust--taking what may feel like you without choice and making it literal. Buffy and Angel were themselves, but not in control of themselves.

Plus, even in this world I suspect (or hope?) that a lot more people have had the experience of being carried away on lust and hormones and gone to bed with someone they later realised they shouldn't have, as opposed to people who've been drugged and raped while they were unconscious?

When lust and hormones override will power, reason and moral sense--when you are turned into a slave, when your reactions are amplified by an outside force to an abnormal degree? Look, there's no way to get around the dubious consent of what happened between Buffy and Angel. It's because the glow exists at all and is a outside force influencing them. And I know you didn't mean it this way, but comparing it to being raped while unconscious doesn't make it better.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 16:13 (UTC)

I see a moral difference though, between:
"I did it because I just couldn't stop myself"
and
"I did it because it felt so good, I just didn't want to stop".
Even if the reason it felt good is partly due to outside agency. I mean, the "villain" here is the universe and the force of evolution: and isn't it the force of evolution that gives us our hormones and our sex drive in the first place? Otherwise we'd all still be amoebas wriggling around and going "Bloop!" It's just that in the Buffyverse, natural forces are supernaturally personified.

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 9th October 2010 10:59 (UTC)

And it's not as if Buffy doesn't sometimes have impulse control issues when she's around Angel even without a "glow" to encourage her...

Posted by: diamondtook (diamondtook862)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 02:02 (UTC)

Her will is being tampered with, the same way it would be if someone slipped her an aphrodesiac without her consent,

Ah, okay. I kind of got the feeling you (and others!) were glossing over this- that the Spike sexy thoughts were real while the Bangel sex wasn't, when it seems pretty obvious that both are tampered with, just to different degrees.

but because the narrative finally went there in Buffy POV for a fantasy of sex with Spike post-AR.

I think this is really key, and am very glad you pointed it out. I am so glad that the writers decided to make this decision, and I think it's a big step in validating the subtext of Buffy forgiving Spike sexually as well as emotionally (which is huge), which is something I don't think any of us had real text for. In fact, it makes me suspect now that they did sleep together in Chosen, when before I was of the mind that they probably didn't (though Spike's obliviousness may negate that). The moment reminds me of nothing more than the scene under the stairs in All the Way when he's oblivious to her naughty thoughts, and then her flashback to Smashed in Gone when she finds the lighter. Just, hopefully, without the shame (here's hoping it's awkwardness instead). :) I'm optimistic.

Speaking of, I'm seeing James Marsters at Comic Con tomorrow, and wonder if I should ask him what he thinks of this tomorrow (do you think someone will?). It would be a pretty bold question for someone like me (I don't talk about these things in RL) to ask an actor what he thinks of the sex life of his character... But I know he seems to have hated where they took the relationship in the area and I'm curious as to what how he would react to know that Joss at least thinks that all should be forgiven. What do you think?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th October 2010 23:15 (UTC)

I pretty much agree with everything you're said here.

Buffy having sex-fantasies about Spike isn't in itself proof of intimacy, though it's certainly proof she finds him attractive. (Though as so many people have pointed out, she's fantasising about tender love-making and passionate kissing, not spacefrakking.)

No, I think it's Buffy being quite comfortable to, presumably, take all her clothes off and get in the shower when Spike is just the other side of the door that shows she's comfortable and intimate with him...

Thanks!

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 00:14 (UTC)

Agreed. It's not that the fantasies exist themselves, but that shower scene and also that Buffy is comfortable enough to go to sleep in his bed right after having embarrassing sex dreams.

Posted by: diamondtook (diamondtook862)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 02:30 (UTC)

Huh, now that I think of it, it's kind of an extension of Touched-Chosen. Buffy has not once not slept in Spike's bed when she's been in the same place as him since that night...

Posted by: diamondtook (diamondtook862)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 02:29 (UTC)

It certainly is a change from their usual style. :)

Even their banter shows their intimacy, and I do think it says something that he leaves her to sleep in his bed as well.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 04:42 (UTC)
pic#85222149

Given the conversation between Willow and Aluwyn, I'm inclined to believe Willow will be the betrayer... although Joss does seem to be deliberately setting several people up as suspects, in the style of a detective procedural TV show.

(And there is, of course, Aluwyn's self-admitted problem with telling the truth.)

It's pretty deft how Joss managed to write himself out of having to de-power the Slayers or do away with Angel and Spike when the Fraypocalypse happens.

So what do you think of the fact that The Master is able to slap the super-powered Buffy around quite easily, and even draws blood?

I'm just happy that Satsu is still alive and well, with only three issues to go. My shell of psychic protection around her is still holding.

I'm quite relieved that the series has moved on from the early days of S8, and the writers didn't try to represent the French Slayer's accent on the page phonetically...

SLAYER: "Merci de votre aide!"

ANGEL: "Good moaning. I could not hoop but nutice the hard of doomins atticking your fair titty. I thought you could use some incestance."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 16:16 (UTC)

On the Aluwyn question, it's notable that Willow knows she's a liar... but Aluywyn doesn't actually answer the question about who the betrayer is. That in itself is an answer.

The Master being able to slap Buffy around: I don't think this is the Master, but something taking his form. And the Protector gets his power from the same source Buffy does: the universe.

Posted by: ubi4soft (ubi4soft)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 09:23 (UTC)

on with the review!

Finally! And you haven't got any bank hollidays! What's your excuse to be so late now?

Buffy was still homesick by #20 (he! the red jewel on dragon forehead, remove it and the dream is over, red seed of wonder keep it and they're still flying on the back of the dragon - magickal world, remove it - here's Hell, smashed it - all dreams are over)

even if something is bound to happen sooner or later This is Angel talking to Buffy in #35

"You were the guy I told the things I wasn't supposed to tell" that and "I no longer hate that way"

Willow is pretty smart, don't you think she's figuring out that once the seed destroyed also Dawn could be destroyed? Maybe all memories about Dawn will fade away after that making the road free for Buffy/Xander.

kitty-twilight is a she?

Thanks so much for posting

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th October 2010 16:22 (UTC)

You're welcome! And I actually posted this as early as I practically could... the comic arrives in Britain a day later than the US, so Thursday is Buffy Day for me; and my local comic shop doesn't get the new stock out onto the shelves until lunchtime.

Destroying the Seed apparently stops new power from being drawn in from other dimensions, but doesn't affect magical creatures already in existence in our plane at the moment it breaks. I don't think Dawn would be affected by it breaking - unless, of course, her Key powers somehow need to be released (by killing her) in order to break it in the first place! Or if her lifeforce as the Key is actually linked to the Seed in a direct way, for example if they were created at the same time as two halves of the same entity, and destroying one destroys the other.

Kitty-twilight has the body of a female lion and is referred to as the Queen, so I'm calling her "she" at least until next issue when we'll see what pronoun the other characters use to refer to her. :-)

Posted by: helios_knight (helios_knight)
Posted at: 9th October 2010 00:59 (UTC)

Did you ever watch Power Rangers Turbo?

Maybe when you think of Spike's ship you are thinking of the Subcraft?

http://powerrangers.wikia.com/wiki/Subcraft

Anyway, great review!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th October 2010 09:23 (UTC)

Thanks!

No, I never watched that programme; I don't think that's it. I also thought of some of the Star Wars episodes I - III spaceships, but it's not got an exact match there either.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 17th October 2010 22:06 (UTC)

Nite Owl's ship from the watchmen? Incidentally, good review. Kind of hope it'll be Willow as the betrayer, just because I really liked her turn as the Madwoman.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th October 2010 13:45 (UTC)

*GIS*
Hmm... no, not that either. I think it'll remain a mystery.

Thanks!

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