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(Review) BtVS Season 9: Willow: Wonderland part I

11th November 2012 (10:41)

While I'm continuing to review the 'Buffy' comics themselves, you've all probably noticed I've not being keeping up with the various spin-offs. Multiple factors are to blame: while I still enjoy them, and am still buying them, I'm not as enthused by them as I was back in the Season 8 days. The fact that hardly anybody else seems to be talking about them either doesn't really inspire me to write. 

In fact, nobody is writing much about 'Buffy' at all. Has 'Buffy' fandom died, or did you all move to somewhere like Tumblr or Dreamwidth and didn't tell me?

However, 'Willow:Wonderland' is a standalone arc about my favourite character on the show; and its plot is Willow going on a mystical journey - something I've often used as an idea in my own fanfic. How could I not review this?


Willow:Wonderland is the sequel to the Angel and Faith story arc 'Family Reunion', in which Willow enlisted the help of Angel and Connor to reach the hell dimension Quor'toth. Connor' blood could still be used to get there even though the breaking of the Seed mean that most magic doesn't work any more on Earth. Magic still exists in Quor'toth, however, so Willow's powers returned and she was able to open a portal to continue her journey alone. This stand-alone arc picks up at that point.

We start with a page of background exposition, explaining what the world without magic is like. According to Willow, it sucks. The colour has faded out of the rainbow - quite literally. Suicides are up, people can't sing in tune, Coke tastes wrong. People lack inspiration.

The comic does leave us to wonder exactly how much of this is genuine and how much is Willow projecting her own loss onto the wider world. To be fair to her, she seems to have doubts herself. We start with Buffy being sceptical that it's any more than Willow's own issues, and Willow's reaction to that seems very defensive - she protests (in her private thoughts, not to Buffy) that "I'm not the only one" and again, "This isn't just me". The pattern we see on this page is one of Willow gradually convincing herself that there really is a problem - one that needs to be fixed.

And fixing problems - especially other people's problems - is Willow's favourite thing. Hence her decision that we saw way back in the second 'Buffy' arc, to take the broken Scythe and leave home, to travel the world searching for a way to bring magic back.
I'm reminded that the Seed of Wonder was described in Season 8 as "the source of all the magic in the world": but it was more than that: Twilight itself described it as the soul of the world. Willow called it "Soul and life, and it's amazing. It's tied to the heart of the Earth". It stands to reason that an Earth that's lost its soul will suffer more bad effects than just the loss of magic spells. 

Anyway, Willow arrives in a weird hell dimension full of volcanoes and flying rocks, with an orange sky. It's typical of her style that her first regret is not having a camera phone. She also doesn't have anything in the way of camping equipment - no backpack, tent, sleeping bag, stove or the like - so either she's expecting this to be a really short trip, or she's relying on magic to supply all those needs.

She also discovers that magic works differently in this world, since she manages to fly for about a minute before crashing down to earth again. Ever since she acquired the power - first seen in Season 6, but perfected between Seasons 7 and 8 - Willow seems to prefer flying to walking. Can you blame her? But since that spell didn't work, she turns back to an older divination ritual that Giles once taught her. That's twice on two pages he's been mentioned: not bad for a dead guy.

The ritual needs to be completed by an offering of blood - and as she lifts the Scythe to cut herself, Willow's eyes start to go black. The artist has actually drawn this process midway through, with her pupils still distinct but the whole eye shaded over in black. However, Willow stops herself, with a warning to "Take it slow". The implication is that dark magic - like the Dark Side of the Force - is "quicker, easier, more seductive", but Willow understands that now. Using dark magic is a risk - it can be a calculated risk that she's willing to take in an emergency, but she's now aware of the possible consequences. This is thus a continuation of Willow's growth and character development we saw in Season 8 as well.

With typical ingenuity, she decides that other bodily fluids will work as well as blood, but be less dark and dangerous; a statement that had me a little worried until she revealed she was thinking of saliva! I didn't really understand her "This one's for Xander" comment, unless it's a reference to something on the show I've forgotten. Is she symbolically spitting on him because she hates him for reasons we've not seen yet on the page? Or - a much more pleasant idea - is she getting at the fact that she's choosing the safer but less effective ritual to avoid the danger of going dark - a fate from which he once saved her?

The spell works far more effectively than Willow expected - and she chides herself for her own self-doubt, then references the 'Wizard of Oz' as she sets out walking following the guidance spell. It all sounds very much in-character for her.

We also gather that her plan, such as it is, is to find a large, concentrated source of magic - a new Seed - and then find a way to bring it back to Earth with her. She's apparently attempted this already, but the portals she opens back to Earth close again too quickly for her to do anything. So she's looking for a bigger source of mojo.

Continuing the Oz theme (the book by L Frank Baum, not her ex-boyfriend) Willow is attacked by creatures she calls flying monkeys - though actually they're flying fire-breathing skulls, not very monkey-like. She defends herself with magic - "Thank Artemis the power's back on", she says, which is not a goddess I think she's referenced before. The virgin huntress? I guess Willow is currently celibate (due to dumping Kennedy and being separated from  Aluwyn), and she is hunting for something. 'Escudo' means "shield" in Spanish and Portuguese, so even though the lightning-like effects of her magic look like an attack, it seems she's actually using it just to defend herself. Something that will matter later on.

Just as she's worried there are too many of them, a new monster turns up - a giant worm-thing with a mouth as big as her. I laughed at her threat to it - "Come any closer and I'll -- keep backing away in an intimidating fashion...!" But it turns out the worm isn't interested in her - it's attracted by the flying skull things, which are its natural prey. It chomps on them, and Willow is saved.
There's probably a metaphor, or maybe foreshadowing, there about how help can come in unlikely guises, and that reacting with violence against anything new and different can be counter-productive.

Meanwhile, Marrak the conjurer shows up. He's apparently going to be the main new character of this arc, and be Willow's companion/foil/new friend who will doubtless betray her in a couple of issues' time. Marrak is an ogre-like creature with goat's horns and an outthrust jaw with fangs, who wears a long purple cloak and carried a wooden staff. For some inexplicable reason, he reminds me of Tim the Enchanter from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'...

Anyway, Marrak tells us that he noticed Willow's spell-casting - "Your pyrotechnics" and came to see what was going on. However, his first comment - to himself - when he sees Willow is "That can't be... her!" So clearly he has an ulterior motive or prior knowledge. I see two possibilities: that he knows Willow from before, or at least knows of her by reputation or through a third party; or alternatively, that this world has an ancient mystical prophecy which she can fulfil.

Marrak tells us that he's originally from Earth, and used to visit this hell-dimension for "supplies I can get nowhere else", which is not at all ominous, oh no. He was also mutated from his original form because "dark magic made me look this way" - does that mean a spell that was cast on him, or that using dark magic himself made his physical form change into a demonic form? When the Seed was broken he was trapped in this dimension, as a parallel to all the demons trapped back on Earth. Despite all these ominous hints, he comes across as pleasant and friendly enough so far.

It's also an interesting coincidence that Buffy's first Watcher and mentor was called Merrick, and here is Marrak doing the same for Willow in this new world. 

When Willow tells him that magic is gone from the Earth, he gets angry, and swears vengeance against "the bastards" who "neutered our world". Willow is against that idea, probably because she thinks vengeance is counter-productive but also because the bastard in question is her best friend Buffy.

Marrak looks very sinister, with glowing eyes and horns, when he suggests to Willow that if she could go back to Earth with her own powers restored but no other witches or warlocks left there, how many options would be open to her. There's a definite Devil as Seducer vibe going on here. But Willow - at least so far - is not doing this for selfish reasons, and is not tempted.

(My view of Willow's character is that she's genuinely altruistic - she likes to help people. Her biggest flaw is not selfishness, but blindness to other people's points of view. She thinks she knows better than you yourself do what would be in your own best interest.)

Marrak also suggests that Willow could herself be the source of magic for the Earth, or at least the conduit through which it passed from another dimension into our own. Willow dismissed that without much thought - "sounds dangerous" is her only comment before she changes the subject. 

However, I have to wonder if this is, in fact, exactly what Willow - or rather, Future Dark Willow - will end up doing 200 years from now. That would finally explain 'Time Of Your Life'! The way to bring back magic, apparently, is for Willow to let herself be killed by the original, unbroken Scythe that was powered by the Seed, and thus establish a conduit through her own body for magic to flow back into the world. Getting the unbroken Scythe required time travel, and apparently it took 200 years for her to set up that spell to pull Buffy into Fray's world.

Or maybe that was all an alternate-dimension Willow, and the one from the 'real' Buffyverse will find another solution.

 At this point they're attacked again, by an apparent cousin of the giant worm demon - although this one has legs. Its mouth is still big enough to swallow a person whole, though. The fight scene was fascinating to read, because it's staged very differently to the usual Buffyverse combat. Willow is certainly not a cool, badass warrior like Buffy, or Spike and Angel: and she can't just leap into battle the way they do. When her attempt at zapping the monster with magic fails, and Marrak's spells are equally ineffective ("It's laughing at us!"), she has to use her ingenuity to come up with a plan. The result is a lot of flustered arguing and shouting at each other as Marrak tries to distract the creature until Willow is ready. 

Her plan works perfectly, though - she move rocks around until they form a hex, lures the monster into the centre of it - and freezes it motionless. But then Marrak grabs the Scythe off her and buries it in the helpless creature's head, killing it. Willow is furious: Marrak is unrepentant - not to mention that he plans to cook the monster for dinner.

This exchange showcases Marrak's ruthlessness and his pragmatism, in contrast to Willow's mercy. Is she simply being squeamish and sentimental - the old Season 5 Willow who didn't want to hurt the horses in 'Spiral' - or is this a sign of her more enlightened and spiritual approach to magic post-Season 7? Back in 'Goddesses and Monsters', too, she refused to kill Gnog (the Black Knight who barred her path) and specifically explained to Aluwyn "I'm not a killer". For that matter even in 'The Long Way Home' her solution to a zombie apocalypse was not to destroy the zombies, but to convince them they were all at a formal ball. 
I think Willow has now seen the darkness inside her and is taking conscious steps to avoid it taking control of her. Avoiding unnecessary killing, especially magical killing, is a part of that. (Not that she's always succeeded - her casual use of violence back in 'Retreat' was enough to worry Buffy severely).

They cook the monster's flesh around a campfire, then lie down in the open on the rocky ground. (Really should have brought a sleeping bag, Will.) Marrak speaks longingly of how great it'll be to be back on Earth with all his power and no rivals, and Willow looks distinctly concerned about her travelling companion, and what she's let herself in for.

Next morning, they follow Willow's path of fire into an enchanted forest, and find a magical spring. Willow, being not entirely stupid, is worried that drinking it will send them to sleep for a thousand years. While she may not have brought camping equipment, she does have a druidic purity pendant that will make the water safe to drink. 

The water isn't poisoned, but it does make Willow experience all the most powerful memories of her life. These include:
The start of her friendship with Buffy and membership in the Scooby gang - though interestingly, Willow remembers it differently, or multiple memories are combining. Her line "You're the Slayer and we're like, the slayerettes" (from 'The Witch') was actually spoken when they were in the library researching, while here Buffy is in the middle of fighting vampires.

Using her computer skills to research the bad guys, with Xander beside her - the original, pre-magic way she helped out the team and fought evil and found a purpose in life. Also, she looks so young here with her Season 1 hairstyle! I'm not sure if this is genuine dialogue from the show - I couldn't find it on a search - or just a generic Willowy thing to say.

The start of her relationship with Oz, specifically the conversation from the final scene of 'Phases'. It's significant that it's the happy beginning, not the tragic end in 'Wild At Heart' or the awkward coda in 'Retreat', that's numbered among Willow's lasting and most powerful memories of her life.

Willow getting dark magic from Rack, with their dialogue from 'Wrecked'. This was when Willow did the mystical equivalent of selling her body to buy drugs, and it's kind of reassuring that her subconscious doesn't shy away from it or blank it out.

Tara's death. There's obviously no way a list of the most significant moments in Willow's life could ever leave that out.

The start of Willow's relationship with Aluwyn. Again, the memories here are combined; her words "And for truth, I choose the Trickster" come from 'Goddesses and Monsters', but when she said them she wasn't in a naked sexy clinch with Aluwyn, as she is in this memory. 

I feel sad for Kennedy that she apparently doesn't feature in Willow's most important memories. Not entirely surprised - it was always the bittersweetness of that pairing that Kennedy's feelings for Willow were much deeper than Willow's for her. But still sad. 

It was also notable that everyone who appeared in Willow's flashback is a person she's had some kind of sexual interaction with - metaphorical in Rack's case, making-out only with Xander, and subtextual with Buffy, but still there. I also think we can assume that the writer and artist chose scenes that would contrast with each other, from a Doylist perspective, and so for example Tara only appears once even though I suspect more than one of Willow's most important memories would involve her.

Willow is worried that Marrak also saw the same vision of her life, but it turns out he saw his own life flash before his eyes instead. He describes it as being "kicked in the face by every failure in my life", which is an interesting contrast. Either the magic worked differently on him - which I doubt - or his life has been one long string of failures. If so, that would be all he got to experience; while Willow's life has contained a mixture of friendship and love and helping other people, not just horrible mistakes and tragedies, so she experiences both.

While they're all dazed, a new player appears on the scene, straight out of 'Alice in Wonderland' or possibly a bad acid trip. Or both: a giant talking caterpillar. He's smoking a pipe, not a hookah, and he speaks in bad verse which neither Lewis Carroll's version nor Grace Slick's did; but he does claim to have known Carroll in person. 

He explains to them what the spring does, and Willow asks him if he can help them in their quest. She's looking for "the light" to "heal the damage that's been done", while Marrak thinks dark magic would be more helpful. He also knows she's "tasted dark magic" - how does he know that, I wonder? She didn't tell him in any conversation we were shown, so that's another clue he knows of her from before. Willow doen't pick up on it, though - and she says she has to "remain pure" (like Artemis?) and not give way to the temptations of the Dark Side.

The Caterpillar, however, mocks that idea. As far as he's concerned, magic is no more "light" or "dark" than science is: it's a neutral force that can be used for good or evil, but the two are not easily disentangled.

Before they can continue with this philosophical discussion, the Caterpillar hears something big approaching, and asks them, in a fake-casual way, if they killed anything on the way here. "You did, didn't you?" he says as we end on a cliff hanger, and an enormous monster looking just like the one Marrak killed - but the size of a small office building - bursts into the clearing with a roar. Ooops. Should have listened to Willow, Marrak!

My assumption is that this is the original creature resurrected and grown larger through a magical law of consequences - the evil you do with magic returning to you threefold, or something like that. Alternatively, maybe it's the original monster's mother come for revenge.

In summary, I liked this story but felt it was a little empty compared to its closest equivalent, 'Goddesses and Monsters'. That had more emotional resonance and more analogies to real-world myths, both ancient and modern, than this. Still, 'Wonderland' is a multi-part series, so we can expect it to be paced more slowly than a one-off. The dialogue felt true: Jeff Parker has captured Willow's 'voice' very well. The art, while good in itself, is less recognisable - but partly that's because this is an older Willow with a new hairstyle (courtesy of Georges Jeanty, I understand) and it was a nice touch to include the flashbacks to earlier and more familiar versions of the character, to remind us of how she's changed over time.


Comments

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:12 (UTC)

Thank you for this review, Storm. I'm not going to collect the Willow title... I'm spending quite enough as it is (including just paying LJ for more photo memory). But, I do want to know the basics of what is happening in these side stories in case they come up in the main Buffy or Angel titles later.

I look forward to your reviewing this series. Any chance that I missed a 'Goddesses and Monsters' review during my "I need to take a break from this" phase, or that you may acquiesce to a special request for such a review?

I expect it will start to be quieter as everyone is gearing up for Thanksgiving (for us in the U.S.) and Christmas season. It has seemed peculiarly quiet lately, now that you mention it though.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:33 (UTC)

Thanks!

I reviewed G&M back when it first came out. Link is here:
http://stormwreath.livejournal.com/94959.html

And in general, the 'season 8 review' and 'season 9 review' tags will take you to all my reviews.

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:19 (UTC)

I still appreciate your reviews, keep them coming.
Buffy fandom does exist on Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/buffy
"This one's for Xander" I took to be a reference to this comment in "The Gift" Xander: "Why blood? Why Dawn's blood? I mean, why couldn't it be, like, a lymph ritual?".

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:30 (UTC)

Tumblr fandom isn't exactly essays and fanfiction and reviews and extended discussions, though, is it? Unless I'm missing something. It's mostly just images, logically enough.

Glad to hear you like the reviews, though. :)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 10th December 2012 20:03 (UTC)
Tara does not approve of this

Well a lot of fans are now switching/cross-posting from LJ to DW, or so I am told. (I just created a DW site but we'll see how much I use it.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th December 2012 11:40 (UTC)

I suppose the big question is, are there a lot of people who've moved to DW and completely abandoned reading LJ, as opposed to cross-posting/reading both?

My pessimism says that few people are really interested in discussing 'Buffy' anymore, but like Willow, I live in hope that actually there's a secret Wellspring of fandom hidden in some far-off dimension. :)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 11th December 2012 16:14 (UTC)
Showtime

IDK. I'm not interested in the comics, for instance - and I did read most of your reviews to try to figure them out - and I know you like them, so my opinions are neither here nor there at the moment. (I'm past the astonishment and rage stages, and I'm moving on to a more intellectual/analytical stage. I hope.)

In terms of general fandom of the tv show, which is my interest, I'm a newbie this year. I just watched it, am still processing it, and have all sorts of reactions but apparently anything I could say or think or write has been done already? So I'm trying to find those places and subjects that are overlooked; I've got a lot more to say about Joyce and "motherhood" on the show, for instance. And my take on things is sometimes at odds with what I find here on LJ. Sometimes not.

I went from Noel Murray's reviews at AV Club, where the conversation and preferences tended to the early seasons and AtS , and I found out that I'm supposed to hate the late seasons. Except I love them. Then I landed on MikeJer's Critically Touched reviews and forum, and his reviews were closer to my own feelings than Noel's; then somehow I made my way here. (Mike invited me to join his forum but I've been in other forums in another fandom and they can get overwhelming to my poor little brain.) Then I made my way to LJ, I have no idea how. Links for the comics? I think yours was actually one of the first LJ sites I found, then on to gabrielleabelle and others.

I find myself wishing that I had been around in fandom, not when the show was first on, but when the revival of interest happened in 2008-2010. It is what it is though. I'm having some interesting conversations still, reading fic, etc and enjoying the process. For me it has to be enough for now, to just keep talking and writing about it because there's always going to be someone like me who is entirely new to the show. And I can live with small, civilized conversations.

I think another renaissance is always possible - but that may be years down the road (the 20th anniversary of the show perhaps? I assume the 10th anniversary is what sparked the renewed interest in 2008.)

If you're thinking of the comics rather than the tv show (which again I have no interest in except on a Doylist level), I think it would require a huge increase in the quality of the flagship title, which means an increased engagement on the part of the writers - specifically JW, and a sense that someone cares about the flagship title (all these splinter titles make it hard to retain focus - and for someone like me with ADD? A nightmare. I've never been so glad to be broke because I can't be tempted to buy the stuff.) And a greater awareness of why readership has declined, whatever the reasons may be. Someone else said to me on their LJ "if the creators don't care, why should I?" and that's a valid opinion.

But I'd rather talk about the tv show anyway because tv Buffy is my BDH.

Posted by: Kiki May (kikimay)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:40 (UTC)
Beautiful lioness

Nice review!
(As far as I know, the fandom still exist in LJ, maybe they are also backing up on DW, just in case)
I liked this first issue. I also liked the art, even if the main character doesn't resemble Alyson Hannigan at all. I also expect a more slowly development of the story. Generally I don't know if doing all these miniseries is the right thing for BtVS, but I'm very curious about "Wonderland", because Willow deserves a closer look on her character development.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 11:52 (UTC)

Thanks!

I'm making allowances for 'Wonderland' because it's the first chapter of a longer story, so you wouldn't expect huge revelations straight off. But Willow's story of character development and self-realisation has been going on for a long time now - at least since Season 3 - separate to the main Buffy-centric storyline of BtVS, so it fits that she gets her own stand-alone.

I do worry that not many people will buy it because it's only Willow alone, with none of the other ensemble characters for her to interact with. Will enough people care?

Posted by: ceciliaj (ceciliaj)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 12:40 (UTC)

I posted my thoughts here. In a nutshell, I said the same thing as you: In summary, I liked this story but felt it was a little empty compared to its closest equivalent, 'Goddesses and Monsters'. That had more emotional resonance and more analogies to real-world myths, both ancient and modern, than this. Definitely I have some hope that the arc will all come together. I just feel like S9 fits so relatively little into each particular installment, well, at least since Freefall #1, which was so good.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 12:51 (UTC)

I do think S9 is suffering from a lack of Joss (who, of course, wrote Freefall #1).

He tends to throw everything and the kitchen sink into his episodes, which can make them confusing to read/watch at times, but also fascinating to unpick all the different strands of meaning. With S9 it seems that he gave a whole load of ideas to his writers, but they're now just running with them, instead of constantly adding to them the way Joss would have. It makes for much more straightforward stories, but with less to talk about.

Posted by: ceciliaj (ceciliaj)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 13:01 (UTC)
Harmony comics

but they're now just running with them, instead of constantly adding to them

Yeah, exactly. Alas! Oh well, if nothing else, it makes me appreciate S8 all the more :).

Posted by: Sophist (mefistopheles)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 20:07 (UTC)

Just wanted you to know that I rely on your reviews for the comics and I really appreciate that you do them.

FWIW, Willow invoked Diana, the Roman name for Artemis, in Tough Love when she attacked Glory.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 20:24 (UTC)

Thanks; it's nice to know people read them!

I wonder if Artemis and Diana are the same goddess in the Buffyverse?

Posted by: Sophist (mefistopheles)
Posted at: 11th November 2012 20:28 (UTC)

I don't know. Amy invoked Diana twice (BB&B, Gingerbread), but I searched the transcripts and found no mention of Artemis. I'm guessing they preferred the Roman name, but it's hard to say.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 16:57 (UTC)
pic#87400756

While I'm still reading all of the Buffy titles, I'm finding a lot less to say about them this season. I think the Josslessness is very much in evidence. It not only doesn't sound like he's writing it, it sounds like he's not really guiding it either. The season 9 comics feel like the best of the pre-season 8, non-canon Buffy comics Dark Horse used to publish.

They're not bad... but I will say that they're not as good as season 8.

I haven't felt even the slightest inspiration to write any season 9-based fanfic, for one thing.

Scott Allie has indicated that Willow's take on the post-Seed world is part objective (the rainbow really does have only two colors now) and part subjective (lame music, bad-tasting Coke). I'm not sure why the loss of magic would affect the laws of optics... if physics changed to the point that the rainbow were reduced to only two colors, the entire spectrum of vision would be seriously altered across the board.

I also thought the "this one's for Xander" comment seemed startlingly harsh. I guess it was referring either to his "lymph ritual" suggestion or to the fact that he was the one who originally saved her from her own darkness. But that is a bit obscure even to serious fans.

Marrak reminds me of a cross among Tim the Enchanter, a bantha from "Star Wars", and a Mystic from "The Dark Crystal." As for his true intentions, I think he knows the same thing Aluwyn did... that Willow is one of the most powerful magic-users on earth, and is worth getting to know for one's own reasons.

Having read a couple of biographies of Lewis Carroll, I found the Caterpillar's suggestion that he was an absinthe fiend amusing.

I've been championing the idea of Future Dark Willow = the new Seed since the end of season 8, and Marrak's comment here seems to foreshadow that I might be proven right. Except I think the sequence of events will be: 1) Willow turns herself into a makeshift replacement for the Seed, allowing magic to (weakly) return to the world. The stress of this affects her both physically and mentally; 2) She eventually creates or discovers a new proper Seed that will replace the original one, along with a new Scythe to go with it; this allows the Slayer line to be re-activated, and she sees to it that Melaka gets the Scythe; 3) She herself (the existing Seed) has to die in order for the new one to take effect, and the Seed can only be destroyed by the Scythe that's keyed to it, so she has to call Buffy and her Scythe forward in time to kill her, at which point 4) the new Seed comes fully online and magic returns fully to the world.

We'll see.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 18:09 (UTC)
Illyria

The weak point in this reasoning that I can see is that all FDW really has to do to restore magic back to the world is prevent Buffy from going back to her world - this will shut down Twilight effectively. And if FDW needs to be killed with the Scythe - why not use Melaka's Scythe ? It is the same weapon.



Edited at 2012-11-12 18:10 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 18:50 (UTC)

Melaka's Scythe might not be the same weapon, but a parallel-universe version of it, or even a copy. Plus time-travel always gets complicated because the rules have to be made up as you go along. Maybe Future Dark Willow couldn't stop Buffy from going back to her own time because the Seed-breaking had already happened, and Willow couldn't prevent it without causing a paradox?

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 19:43 (UTC)
pic#87400756

The "two separate Scythes" theory tracks well with my theory about Seed!Willow, while also avoiding the thorny questions of time paradox and conservation of matter. (Don't want the Reapers showing up in Haddyn to start tearing the world apart...)

There's no explanation of how Urkonn ended up in possession of Melaka's Scythe, but if he was working with Willow (wittingly or not) to re-establish the Slayer line, it would make sense.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 20:52 (UTC)

Actually, the two different Scythe's theory is self-defeating in its core. Sorry I do not mean to offend only to point out flaw in this logic. Following this logic if Willow is a new Seed and she needs to be killed/destroyed by a weapon that it attuned to *this* Seed - she needs to be killed by Melaka's Scythe , not by Buffy's. Because Buffy's Scythe according to your theory is attuned to the old Seed that is already gone.

Besides, this theory does not explain the fact of FDW insisting that keeping Buffy 'in'/letting her go is of major importance in preserving the Fray timeline. If all Buffy is summoned for is to kill Willo-the-Seed to activate the third Seed than stressing out the fact that Fray future will fog out if they keep her/let her go does not make any sense.

So I keep insisting that my own pet theory is still the one that explains the most/all of the given facts.

* There is only one Scythe ( magical artifacts of this caliper do not usually multiply.)
* Fray future is caused directly by the happenstance of Twilight.
* Saga Vasuki is a lover/mentor/messenger for both Willows - present time and FDW who passes the message of the portal opening from future to the past to present day Willow from her FDW self.
* The goal of FDW suicide by Buffy is to cause Twilight to happen - be virtue of scaring Buffy enough of the coming future to make her think of Retreat, then get defeated , empowered by Twilight, etc.
* The key to the whole scheme is 'After this messages' issue in which dream Angel tells Buffy that by telling a person of their future one can change it into God knows what.
* Buffy eventually tells Willow about killing her in the future - thus making sure that Willow is aware of her future self being killed by Buffy.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 21:34 (UTC)
pic#87400756

The new Scythe (Melaka's) would be attuned only to the new Seed... the one Willow either created or discovered. She herself would still be carrying the vestiges of magic from the old Seed, and would therefore need to be destroyed by the old Scythe (Buffy's).

Nothing that Willow said to Buffy, or to Harth, can be trusted. She told them opposite things, openly admitted she was lying to one of them, and refused to say which one. She died without ever revealing the truth behind her motives.

I'm not sure why FDW would retroactively want to cause Twilight. Magic obviously returned to some extent without the necessity of creating a new universe, so it would be unnecessary.

It's a pretty grim view of Willow if she manipulated Buffy into killing her, so that Buffy's guilt would make her desperate to avoid that future, so that Buffy would take actions resulting in the destruction of the world and billions of people, with the survivors forced to live in an imposed "new, better world" where everything they knew is gone, and they are ruled over by the godlike murderer of their friends and families.

I think I'll sink or swim with my theory.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 21:55 (UTC)

* Willow herself cannot be carrying any vestiges of the old Seed magic as per S9 she was empty of magic when she went into Quar'Toth. And the new Scyth Melaka's would indeed be attuned to that new Seed - which would be Willow, according to your theory. the new new Seed is not activated yet.

* True. Which is exactly why e have to take into account secondary sources - such as Saga Vasuki's sending, Melaka and her sister being still alive after FDW death, etc.

*FDW would want to 'close the loop' perhaps because other possible futures don't exist/are even worse. Like is this Twilight scenario at the very least Buffy breaks the Seed, and later magic dribbles back. In alternative scenarios the demons win the war and all is destroyed - like in AtF final vision presented by Wesley.

* If the FDW is committing the ultimate sacrifice - her life in exchange for *any* kind of future for humanity I think it can be viewed as 'not so grim'. And it is very much in tune with what Joss did with CiTW - inverted.

As I said - I am only poking at your theory because I can see logical flaws. In the end it might turn out to be something else. But the 'After this messages' issue made me think of the whole scheme - and I cannot find the logical flaws so far. Even though it is on the grim side.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 13th November 2012 01:21 (UTC)
pic#87400756

I'm going on the assumption that *all* of the magic left in this world came from (or through) the old Seed. This is the stuff Whistler is collecting in an attempt to create some sort of "ambient magic" to replace the Seed.

It's possible this season ends with Willow performing some big ritual that draws all of the remaining magic in the world into her, so that it will no longer be trapped in objects but put "back into circulation" enough to reopen the portals.

But this would be a weak and slapdash substitute for a real Seed, so Willow would spend the next 200 years trying to obtain a new one.

I'm almost certainly wrong about all this... I've never been right before with any of my grand theories about the Buffy comicverse. Joss is a veteran TV writer and therefore knows how to twist his plots so amateurs like me can't figure them out ahead of time. But it's fun to theorize, however futilely.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 20:59 (UTC)

Once again, this does not explain the fact that FDW is very certain that by keeping Buffy in/letting her go the future (which is their present) can definitely be changed. She keeps insisting that 'this world (aka Fray future) will cease to exist' if(...) The only logical explanation is that Fray future is indeed not certain and by making sure that Buffy kills her FDW ensures that it stays put - and does not fog out. By that time magic is already trickling back, etc. I find the theory that involves multiple Seeds (3), multiple Scythes (2) a bit clunky - and it still does not explain the portal events and Saga's involvement.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 18:44 (UTC)

I understand Joss is still reading scripts and sending back notes - some of the authors have mentioned them - but even so that's nothing compared to Season 8 where he actually wrote multiple issues (about a quarter of the whole season, wasn't it?)

You're being over-literalist with the "laws of optics" comment, I think. :) Not to mention that the "seven colours of the rainbow" are a myth anyway. To my eyes rainbows seem to have three colours - red, yellow, greeny-blue. We see seven colours because that's what our culture tells us we should see.

In Homer's poetry, the sky on a clear day is called "bronze-coloured" and the sea is described as being the "colour of red wine". Does that mean the laws of optics have changed in our world too? No, it means the Ancient Greeks had different concepts of colour to our own, which in turn affected the way they perceived the world. To them, the dark/light distinction and things like brightness and reflectiveness were more important than hue, so they saw a bright blue sky and a bright orangey-brown shield as being comparable in colour, because they were both shiny and reflective.

So yes, your cultural background can affect how you perceive a rainbow. With magic gone from the world, and with it original creativity and inspiration, our perceptions shift too.


Your Willow/Seed explanation works, I think. The big question is whether that Willow, and that Scythe, are the same as ours: or if parallel dimensions are in play.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 18:12 (UTC)

I am very happy you are at the very least reviewing Willow's mini. Was very disappointed when you dropped A&F. The last arc included Willow, and I was really missing your commentary on Willow's involvement. Just saying.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th November 2012 18:47 (UTC)

I was tempted to pick up the review of A&F for at least the arc with Willow in, I must admit. But then, a few months back I was spending several hours to write a review and getting maybe one comment back, and it was becoming kind of disheartening. (The last couple of reviews have actually got more discussion, which is encouraging - though obviously still not on a par with S8 when there could be 50 or more comments discussing each review.)

Posted by: Stephanie (ladycallie)
Posted at: 17th November 2012 19:33 (UTC)
Buffy - Willow head tilt

Thank you for this. I haven't been following the comics, but since Willow is my favorite, I'm looking to track this series. I've always enjoyed the depth or your reviews. :)

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