?

Log in

No account? Create an account
StephenT [userpic]

Season 8

7th June 2007 (22:43)
Tags: ,

A brief word on my reactions to season 8 so far (expanding on a reply to beer_good_foamy 's comment in my last entry)

 

 This has been a classic Buffy episode. She starts out strong: a warrior, but also a leader. She has self-doubts and emotional issues that she hides from her friends. She gets into trouble at the hands of the bad guys - but even when she's apparently helpless, she spots vital clues and works out what's going on. Her friends help her get back on her feet, and are strong characters in their own right. In the final reel, she kicks ass and saves the day - but there are still complications ahead.

Along the way, we get snappy dialogue, cute sexual subtext pointing in a dozen different directions, emotional entanglements between our main characters, deep philosophy on the nature of power and the morality of wielding it, questions of identity, supernatural events used as metaphors for real-life problems, strong male characters who still accept a woman's leadership, and hot chicks with superpowers beating the bad guys.

In a word: this is Buffy.

Also:      :-)

 

Comments

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 7th June 2007 23:00 (UTC)

OK, I was going to let sleeping dogs lie, but... ;-)

I'm not unhappy with the general idea of it, and overall I think it has some really good points, but I still say the execution is shoddy; subplots that make no sense (or are simply poorly explained, which is much the same thing), or directly contradict established canon seemingly just for the hell of it (yes, I'm like a dog with a bone, but it doesn't make it any less of a legitimate bone) or plod about in no man's land (Andrew) only to end on a very anticlimactic "battle" where the bad guy simply sneaks out the back door with all relevant asses completely unkicked, no difficult choices made, and as far as we can tell (which isn't much, since the leads to what actually happen are vague at best) no real impact on our heroes... (Wasn't it you who argued that the good thing about bringing Warren back was that Willow would have to face her demons? She doesn't even seem fazed by them, frankly.) And what's worse, some questions not unanswered but given very unsatisfactory answers. All of it written like a TV show but not actually working like one; it's a bit like reading a storyboard, only v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. It certainly had its good points, but if it were the real thing, then on a whole I'd say it was the least successful season opener since "The Freshman". Oh well, that just means there's room for improvement. I just hope it doesn't kick in, say, 6 episodes (2 years) down the line, as it occasionally did in the series.

And I still say Joss should have written a novel; none of the issues with the artwork, none of the problems with waiting months to find anything out, none of the restrictions of not writing anything longer than what fits inside a small speech bubble... I say the comic format is restricting what he can do rather than liberate him.

Etc etc etc.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:40 (UTC)

Wasn't it you who argued that the good thing about bringing Warren back was that Willow would have to face her demons? She doesn't even seem fazed by them, frankly.

You're right: it was, and she wasn't. Though to be honest I was so interested (and emotionally involved) in what was happening to Willow, that I forgot all about that until just now.

In fact, I'm now intrigued by Willow's almost supernatural calm. Even the water elemental goddess seemed surprised by how serene she was.. And I really want to know what happened in the intervening year... and the coming one.

After Mutant Enemy realised that über-witch Willow might overshadow Buffy, they nerfed her with magic addiction and withdrawal, followed by a crippling loss of her self-confidence. But now she's got over that, and she's practically a goddess herself, how are they going to play it? I'm looking forward to finding out. (Which I think is the secret: I'm enjoying the comics, so while I recognise plot-holes and weaknesses they don't actually matter much to me; they don't detract from the overall thing. Although you do have a point about the novel format...)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:54 (UTC)

Willow's always covered for her bad self with "have a cookie" perkiness, she was much the same about whatever happened with Kennedy in issue 3. With hindsight this was Buffy's book, piling on the Willow angst would have distracted from the actual climax and there's plenty time for an all-Willow all-the-time story later.

With the uberpowerfullness I think it was interesting that overt displays magical strength were shown to be both Willow and Amy's undoing, their power reflected back on them or diverted into their binding. Amy's winning trick was the old rope-a-dope and Willow's to go hide until her friend the calvary arrived.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:46 (UTC)

With hindsight this was Buffy's book
Without actually counting the pages, I'm guessing it was something like 45% Buffy, 20% each Willow and Xander, and 15% other characters. Which isn't too different to the TV show, accounting for the variable size of the main cast from season to season.

Good point about magic being spectacular, but actually not all that useful. It provided the flashy special effects, not the storyline.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:24 (UTC)

That water goddess is interesting; the last time water turned up in a symbolic fashion in the Buffyverse (AFAIR) was back in "Flooded". At the time, I looked up what water represents in dream analysis, and found this on a completely non-Buffy-related site:

Uncontrolled water will often create a sense of unease for a dreamer. (...) Still deep water, while sometimes refreshing, may also create unease. This is because of the murkiness or uncertainty of what lies below the surface. One exception to the generalities listed above is water faucets. In a dream, it is important to recognize if the dreamer or another is controlling the faucet and whether this is done to effect the comfort or discomfort of the dreamer. If the dreamer is controlling the faucet ineffectively, the assumption may be made that the dreamer feels out of control or unable to master what should be apparently simple circumstances (...). If another controls the faucet, one may conclude that the dreamer feels his circumstances, for good or ill, are dependent on the whimsy of another.

Which of course was spot on for Buffy in that episode. So what does water represent to Willow? Is it control, or loss of it? Notably - in "Flooded", it was Willow who turned off the faucet after Buffy stood staring at it for a long time. But we also know what can happen to Willow if she takes on too much control...

The problem with Willow, IMO, and it's certainly not helped by the end of 8.04, is exactly that almost-godlike power. What do you do with a character who is so strong that even a lobotomy doesn't slow her down for more than a few seconds? Who can turn an entire zombie army into a Broadway show? It's the Superman problem, the hero who is so strong that there is nothing she can't solve, nothing that can hurt her... except possibly herself. Something has to happen there.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:42 (UTC)

If anything, I think the water spirit would represent the type of classically-feminine power which is apparently soft and yielding, but turns out to be absolutely incompressible and can either flow around, batter through or erode away the strongest obstacle. The tree is Willow's stability; the water is her true strength.

What do you do with a character who is so strong that even a lobotomy doesn't slow her down for more than a few seconds?
As aycheb says, you can turn her own power against her, or find ways to neutralise it. (I suspect anti-magic kryptonite may appear soon...) Or I suppose you can give her other matters of concern that absorb much of her energy, leaving her little time to help Buffy... her year-long absence seems to be along those lines.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 09:04 (UTC)

But it's the water one that keeps asking her questions, as if it didn't know, and Willow responding "Did I ever tell you about my best friend?" To me, it just doesn't sound like they're parts of Willow. They're something else. They use the word "plane", as in "astral". (Another X-Men theft reference?) I have no idea if there's any popular writing about astral planes in which creatures like these exist, but...

Not much to go on, obviously. Especially since we don't actually see much of what happens to her. Has the alleged lobotomy really ended - as Water seems to suggest - some possibilities and future courses of action for Willow? (And what the hell does that even mean?) Or was that, too, reset in the off-camera healing?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 10:44 (UTC)

I have no idea if there's any popular writing about astral planes in which creatures like these exist, but...

Sure there is. Dungeons & Dragons and its many supplements. :) And references to other planes have been around for decades as well; Michael Moorcock was writing about that specific concept back in the 60s with his Multiverse stories and the Conjunction of the Million Spheres. Not to mention that I'm pretty sure astral projection would have roots in Victorian - if not Mediaeval - spiritualism.

As for Aquagirl's speech "What you're seeing is possibility. Thoughts, courses of actions, peices of what you could be. Ending" - I didn't think "ending" was referring to the possibilities specifically - but rather than Willow is seeing all the possible directions her life could go from this point, including the ones where it ends... and those ones are currently predominating. Again, if you've read Dune it's similar to Paul Atriedes' visions of the future, with many different paths, but the Jihad lurking at the end of almost all of them.

The water one's questions seem designed to push Willow into action without controlling or directing what action she takes, rather than pure igninorance. But to be honest the idea that they're part of her isn't my main thought, just an interesting parallel - although as others have suggested, maybe she's perceiving them through the filter of her own personality because otherwise they'd be inconceivable to humans.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 11:46 (UTC)

Dune

Haven't read it, but seen the David Lynch movie... and suddenly Willow's glowing blue eyes make a LOT more sense! She's clearly high on melange! :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 13:11 (UTC)

Of course! Willow is the Kwisatz Haderach! :)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 06:46 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

What beer_good_foamy said. ;)

And the most tragic thing of all is that I really like this Buffy. She's great. Except she looks so wrong that I can't recognise her half the time, and the other half I think she looks nothing like the 'real' Buffy. That is a problem, and not one I'm about to get over. *sighs*

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:41 (UTC)

Maybe you could get a friend or loved one to read the comics out to you, while you close your eyes and think of Sarah Michelle Gellar? :)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:47 (UTC)
LOL by killmebecomeme

LOL!

Or I could just wait for the novelisation?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:50 (UTC)

It would actually be feasible, I suppose, for a really, really obsessive fan to take the scans of the comics, watch through the TV episodes for scenes where SMG is facing the same direction with the same expression on her face, and paste her picture over the comics. :)

(No, I'm not volunteering...)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:52 (UTC)
blood and whiskey by crackers4jenn

::shakes head and goes back to admiring the perfectly sculpted chest of comic!Spike::

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:47 (UTC)

*Waits for the Faith story arc, for reasons which are not entirely dissimilar.*

What?

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:54 (UTC)
gratification by buttersideup.

Well they put *Buffy* in a tiny skimpy nightie... It's a shame Franco Urro isn't doing the artwork, huh?

And - just in case you thought I was kidding about the Spike thing...

title or description

*g*

I need some icons me thinks...

(Will reply to the Beck stuff tomorrow - or whenever I find some time.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 21:07 (UTC)

I've already got my Faith icon all ready and waiting. :)



I assume you read Brian Lynch's commentary remark about how "so many James Marsters web-board denizens are now my best friends"?

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 21:23 (UTC)
buffylikesspike by mrmonkeybottoms.

I've already got my Faith icon all ready and waiting. :)
Gotta love Faith. My expectations are high! (Oh and if I swung that way I'd totally be a Buffy/Faith shipper! *g*)

Brian Lynch's commentary remark
Oh yes. And laughed. I really, really like the guy, he has a wonderful sense of humour!

Posted by: ibmiller (ibmiller)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 15:20 (UTC)

If I were an icon person, I would so take one of those! S8 = what Dort was all those years ago...

Okay, wierd theological jokes over now...

Even if I have a heart attack if Buffy's lesbian. Cause...no. Uh uh.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 19:46 (UTC)

I'd be really, really surprised if she is, too.

But a storyline where someone who's essentially a member of a military unit is in love with her commanding officer - not to mention the lesbian aspect of it - cetainly has the potential to be interesting. How will Buffy react? How will Leah and Rowena react if they think Satsu's getting favourable treatment? (You can already see hints of that in this issue).

(And the icons are free for anyone to take, as are all the icons I post here)

Posted by: arkeus (arkeus)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:11 (UTC)

I am surprised by everyone's complaint about how this is not "buffy", when their actual complaint about the comics are things that we have seen again and again in the series.

Things like willow being condescending over other people's pain when it is the result of her mistake- the incident with kennedy reflects that. On the other hand, she does seem to be over Warren or even amy, as she was quickly seen to be "over" tara.

Buffy jumped from one characterisation to another, like she did all over in the series, especially in the later one, where she goes with a disorder in earlier season 6 which translate in an unhealthy relationship with spike, to almost normal at the end of the season, to a control freak in season 7, to a more mature buffy a year and a half later...is it so surprising?

The bit about Dawn...Well, i think for a part, what she said was true, but it's also possible that she was trying to rile up buffy- and succeeded, too.

It is rather ironic that a large part of the fandom wants to see the character evolve onscreen, but don't think they could evolve over a year and a half because they are *offscreen*. Ah well...

Buffy season 8, definitely canon :p

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 20:51 (UTC)

Yeah... the characters are clearly recognisable, but they're also not exactly the same as they were the moment episode 7.22 ended. Which is fine for fanfic, but the point of caonon is to advance the storyline and give us new possibilities.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 22:37 (UTC)

Yep they are clearly recognisable as their S4 selves.Having regressed there from 7.22. Dawn acts like she did at the beginning of S5 or how she would be remembered for S4 moping and whining and asking for a non existent relationship with Willow.

And you're also right the point of canon is to give us new possibilities not revist S4 storyline because it wasn't done right the first time. This is just initiative mk2. Since Joss is clueless where the military is concerned he should have left well enough alone.

But saying that I do think if the General's hint is true that could be an intriguing storyline. But I agree with what others have said the drama removal of uber Willow which Joss is now reinforcing is my main problem with all of this arc. No if he had killed Willow wouldn't that have caused real fear, drama and howls of anguish. I know I would have been shocked and I don't like the character precisely because she undermines the entire coherence of the show.

Me at this time I am hoping JW involvement in the Faith arc is minimal.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 23:00 (UTC)

Hmm. Xander shows pretty clear straight-line growth from 'The Replacement' up and through S8 to me. Buffy's clearly learned from her experiences in S7, and is a better leader than she could have been without that. Willow's incredibly confident just as she was pre-S6, but also seems to have a detachment and serenity she never had before. Dawn, I'll grant you, seems to have regressed; and Giles hasn't had enough airtime to really tell much about him. So I think it's a mixed picture, but not a re-tread of any specific season.

Buffy's already pointed out the surface similarity to the Initiative; but remember, they were trying to use and exploit demons for their own ends. This new group is apparently opposed to demons, and therefore should be counted as good guys, if it wasn't for the fact they include the Slayers in with the demons. (plus, they're willing to use highly immoral means to achieve what they see as a noble aim). so I on't think it's the same story either.

As Willow is far and away my favourite character on the show, I'll have to agree to disagree with you on that one. :)

And thanks for the comments re the icons - the second one is actually in Moscow, just outside the Kremlin; it's called the 'Tsar Cannon' and is 16th century (and apparently has never been fired).

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 08:57 (UTC)
Mulling on this more.

The generals comment about Demon's and master race thus making them the good guys and the slayers the bad guys is actually one of the really good things about this issue.

It would be nice if the twilight cult is right and that Willow/Buffy have precipitated Ragnorak without knowing it. By empowering the slayers rather than create guardians they have created potential monsters and a master race who will be corrupted by their power to become the bad guys. They have after all drawn in 1800 more demons into the world strong ones by the look of it. Or maybe portions of 1 greater demon? Maybe the guardians are bad guys given their role in providing the medium it would fit seeing as the amulet also came from an evil law firm. Thus the slayers are like a ticking incubator for the end of the world. If Joss could tie that with the First it would almost fix the plotting of season 7 as it would mean that the first won.

This would serve to create a power boundary for Willow in the future show Buffy the consequences of decisions made in the heat of battle. Thus make her less judgemental.Plus be truly apocolyptic and tie S8 in with Fray. Only Faith and Buffy would remain along with the scoobs to fight off a monster of their own making.

I think the bad slayer content of the Faith arc may also be adding another layer to this theme and thus his words may be the main arc. The only problem I see with this is it runs counter to the female empowerment arc and therefore would require a too gutsy decision by Joss.

Posted by: arkeus (arkeus)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 09:34 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

Interesting.
The thing is, we have seen witches being more powerful than slayers a few times, among other things. So there *is* a possibility of everyone learning magic is better than the opposite. Plus, an amoral human can be worse than a demon. In fact, even if vol is right, the slayers might be the good guys.

I also wonder how you tie in this with the fact that the empowering spell was a light spell, much more so than any other spell done, hence i would believe free of demon contamination. Maybe faith and buffy are the ones here that should be killed, as their power was molded by a demon entity, while the new slayers are most likely made by willow's will and the help of light spirits.

Frankly, i am hoping that it won't fit in with fray, and that the end mirror chosen, with willow (or if, as i believed, she is killed off, someone else then) casting a spell to mold *everyone* into slayers. Or else give them a choice to learn magic at school, and from then teaching them the spell that will turn them into slayers :p

Of course, this is just a fancy!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 10:53 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

'Chosen' ended with Buffy learning to share her power with others. Going on Voll's words, I'm also wondering if Season 8 will end with her finding a way to give the rest of humanity power - not necessarily by making everyone else as powerful as her, but by accepting their ultimate right to control over her and the other Slayers' activities. To use a parallel with armies: if uncontrolled, they can be a force of oppression. One solution is to give everyone in the country a gun of their own; the other is to establish clear civilian and democratic control over the armed forces. Somehoow, I suspect Joss's politics will incline him more to the second.

Posted by: arkeus (arkeus)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 11:41 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

There is a difference there. Soemone can take away a gun, then take it back in case it's needed, and the army people is a "job", people have no right over the army's personal life. Beside, it would clash with the female empowerment theme.

Though the real reason i don't like yoru idea is that things just don't go that way. It's like forbidding knoweldge- if we do that, either no one know it, and the knoweldge would be, after a time, discovered again withotu preparations, or else some people know it and they have power over either. It's also like pandora's box. We don't put back things in it. Even if it would be "simpler".

That's a reason why i like so much m-mcregor fic "i am what i am" :-) it's the total freedom people have about magic.

Of course, like a gun, magic is dangerous. But, unlike a gun, it's part of one's mind and body. People can kill with bare hands too, you know, and if everyone knows magic, using magic to kill someone won't be that easy- i assume that using dark emotions to control magic leaves taint in someone, so there will be lots of desyntox center. Besides, murder with magic can be undone.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 15:02 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

Do we know it is a light spell though? Just because she went white. White is also often used to depict evil. The guardians could be evil.Evil often puts on a good face to entice the unwary.Plus they could just be following the dictum always smear the other side in your propoganda. Plus there is always the thought that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Me I hope they do not do any more powering up as that is almost a facist message. i.e you cannot matter unless you have power.

That for me is one of the prime differences between early Buffy and later Buffy. Early Buffy it is about who rather than what you are. Whereas later Buffy is all about what you are, slayer, witch, vampire. Only one character is left without powers and that is Xander. I prefer to think that his is the true heroism.

The witches being more powerful than slayers is one of the huge problems with the show especially in later seasons.

In early seasons the magic is slower and more ritualistic taking time to cast and thus being ponderous in combat situations thus the Slayer remains the warrior of the people. Later you have to wonder if Witches are so cool why they did not go in that direction when looking for something to battle demons. After all they obviously already had the skills and power.It undermines the whole chosen one speech at the beginning of 144 episodes. Sure S7 stands that on it's head in the finale but Willow was already as powerful as Buffy by S5 and ahead in S6 and S7.As for the slayers being made by Willow's will for me that also just rubs me the wrong way as it is more and more about making Willow central. I would rather that he spun Willow off into her own comic if that is what he wants to do seeing she obviously is much of a feature in anyones lives having be awol for 18 months.

I think it needs to fit with Fray as otherwise Joss is just retconning Fray out of existence thus meaning no one has any guarantee that he will not do just the same with S8. This is my main problem with constant retconning other than being a sign of sloppy writing it is also abusing the trust of fans. Some is okay and large scale ones are fine but in the first 4 issues he seems to be making a peverse point by retconning stuff that he did not need to.

I do like you think the main plot has some possibilities though which is a postive I drew from this issue.

Posted by: arkeus (arkeus)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 15:15 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

Hum.
You are bantering on the meaning of "light" there. What i meant is that there is no demon influence in the spell, hence vol's reflection is bull. I didn't mean that the "light" is perfect, though i do think it is much better than the dark, and the power that be.

I have a feeling that the power that be are the one controlling the twilight people, as they are wary of too many slayers- they want balance, not the victory of humans and good demons, or even neutral demons.

Yeah, But i didn't mean that one had to have power to have a significant role. Just that if there is power to have, it isn't human not to take it, and refine it. I also think that it is easy to be condescending about a strong person's fight compared to a weak person, but that both are hard- not that i think any less of xander :p

About magic and slayers, maybe, just maybe, at the time they only had rituals and so on, not the sheer skills that take thousands of years of research? Also, it is shown a witch has to grow her power, while a slayer's power is given. It is normal that the harder path should be stronger, but that the easier path gives more "immediate" result.

I also thought slayers grew stronger with age and magical teaching. I think that buffy, if she took years to lean it, could get as strong as she was against adam.

The reason why witches aren't the one to fight against demons? They take years to train, aren't easy to control, get tired, and are corruptible more easily via dark magic.

Fray is canon? I had thought that josh had said it was an alternate universe of some sort? confused.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2007 10:55 (UTC)
Re: Mulling on this more.

Buffy causing her own downfall through hubris in the way you suggest would make a classic Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, I agree. However, I'm not prepared to go as far as you in saying that it's the only plot for season 8 that would make sense or be artistically acceptable. :) Besides, I'm not a huge fan of tragedy, so I'd prefer a different ending.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 8th June 2007 22:47 (UTC)

Oh forgot to mention great cannon icons.:-) Is the 2nd one from Constantinople ?

33 Read Comments