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(Meta) The Long Way Home #2 - annotated

1st July 2007 (12:42)

This is Part 2 (of 4) of my annotated version of 'The Long Way Home'. It might be a while before the remaining sections are done.

Previously on Season 8 (Being a synopsis of the first episode)
Buffy leads a group of Slayers in a raid on a demon nest, only to discover that their supposed human 'victims' had a mysterious symbol carved into their chests. As she and Xander puzzle over the meaning of the symbol, a military expedition led by General Voll - who knows of the Slayers and sees them as a threat - explores the ruins of Sunnydale and discovers the witch Amy Madison and her 'boyfriend' lurking there. Amy offers Voll a deal to attack their common enemy - Buffy.
 



ACT TWO

INT. GILES' STUDY - DAY

CLOSE on a piping hot CUP OF TEA sitting on a desk. Through a window behind it we can see a RUSSIAN CITY.

>> moscow_watcherspeculated from the architecture, the lampposts, statues and so on that the city in question is St Petersburg, although there's nothing in the comic to definitely confirm this either way. Cups of tea, of course, constitute 75% of Giles's lifestory according to Spike.

GILES (V.O.)
I used to be a Watcher.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. RUSSIAN CITY - DAY
Beneath the shadow of a onion-domed CHURCH, a huge crowd of GIRLS are fighting - fists, punches and kicks only, no weapons. Half of them are dressed as NINJA, the other half are in normal clothes.

>> As we will see when they take their hoods off shortly, the ninja are actually Slayers themselves. Presumably this is a training fight between two teams, one of them wearing the ninja outfits to distinguish them.

GILES (V.O.)(cont'd)
The organization existed since before there were
cities. The Watcher's Council, always moving,
always secret, but very much alive. There
were hundreds of Watchers. And one Slayer.

>> The idea that the Watchers' Council is "always moving" is something new; previously I'd assumed it was pretty much based in Britain. Of course, when an organisation is 10,000 years old, spending three centuries or so in one place before moving on probably still counts as "always moving."

GILES, holding his cup of tea, steps out onto the BALCONY overlooking the crowd of fighting girls.

GILES
Enough.

They stop fighting.


GILES (V.O.)(cont'd)
Scales have tipped of late.


The girls - sorry, SLAYERS - wearing ninja hoods TAKE THEM OFF as they all stop to listen to Giles' CRITIQUE.

GILES
I see some superior fighting out there.
Technique and power that might
just give Buffy Summers herself a run
for her money. Impressive force.
(beat)
It is, of course, useless.

>> Notice that Buffy is clearly a name to conjure with, even here halfway around the world from where she herself is located. Of course, we'll shortly see that Buffy is still in a league of her own when it comes to fighting.

WIDEN to show the Slayers looking shocked at that.

GILES
You're all fighting alone. Getting in
each other's way, not protecting each
other's flanks... failing to use your single
most valuable asset...

>> Giles is being rather cold and distant here, although he does compliment his trainees' technique. It seems close to his season 7 persona; he behaved in much the same way with the Potentials then. On the other hand, his initial attitude to Buffy herself wasn't that different, until he realised the futility of trying to order her around and instead came to respect and love her. It seem that without her around, he tends to slip back into default Watcher mode.

CUT TO:

EXT. SCOTTISH MOOR - CONTINUOUS - DAY
A green field just outside the CASTLE that serves as Slayer HQ. BUFFY, dressed in training clothes and holding a wooden PRACTICE SWORD is addressing another group of SLAYERS, including SATSU, LEAH and ROWENA.

>> Leah, Satsu and Rowena, for those losing track, were the three Slayers who formed the core of Buffy's strike team during the attack on the old church in the last episode. Incidentally, despite the castle being in Scotland, note that it isn't raining... The swords they're using are Japanese-style bokken (slightly curved with a two-handed grip - a bokken is the wooden training equivalent of a katana) which continues the Japanese theme from the ninja outfits Giles's squad were using.

BUFFY
...each other. One Slayer fighting alone is
formidable. Two is formidabler. Or... Three?
Mega-formidable. And after mega it goes
to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d',
crazy, stupid... it gets exponentially prefixy.

>> and, of course, Buffy picks up the same conversation Giles was having (a fairly common technique on the show, which the comics are following) although her vocabulary is distinctively her own. Note the emphasis on the need for the Slayers to work together, instead of as separate individuals - an idea that will be recalled right at the end of this story arc when Buffy and Willow have their showdown with Amy.

REVERSE ANGLE on her audience. Wardrobe note - SATSU has a particularly unusual and trendy HAIRSTYLE.

>>Satsu's 'Rude Girl' badge (which marks her as a fan of ska music, or perhaps she's just being literal) is the same as last episode, but now she's also wearing a 'The artist formerly known as Prince' badge. (Translation for Americans: badge = button).

BUFFY (O.S.)
Leah. Satsu. Rowena. Would the three of you
please kick my ass?

Well, they try. All three Slayers lunge at Buffy with their own WOODEN SWORDS. But Buffy jumps up, kicks Satsu in the face, knocks Rowena into Leah, and within seconds all three are on the floor and Buffy's holding her sword to Leah's throat.

>> Let's just run that by again. A Slayer is the ultimate killing machine, the thing even monsters have nightmares about. And Buffy just outfought three of them at once without breaking a sweat. Those eight years of experience and training clearly make a big difference...

BUFFY
So. Three perfectly valid avenues of attack,
good form - on three seasoned, well-trained
corpses, one of whom, sidebar: has her best hair ever;
Satsu, you're making me think I need a
new look, see me after. So. Let's break this down.
The first clue this was going downhill? Clearly...

>> Last episode we saw Buffy's new leadership skills in a fight; now we see another side to them. She's taking a hands-on approach to training; she knows people's names; she notices and compliments their hairstyles as well as their fighting technique.

>> In light of what we learn later about Satsu's feelings for Buffy, there may be some significance to the corner-of-the-eye look she's giving her as Buffy asks her to "see me after"... Also, we know from episode #4 that Leah at least picked up on Buffy's comment about the hair and remembered it.

CUT TO:

EXT. ITALIAN VILLA - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
CLOSE on ANDREW

ANDREW
...Lando Calrissian's outfit. And I know
a lot of you were gonna say Ewoks, but that's
too easy.

>> For the three people out there in the entire world who didn't recognise the reference, he's talking about Star Wars. Again continuing Buffy's conversation, but this time, we presume, answering the question "When did Star Wars start going downhill?"

WIDEN TO:
A grassy field outside a villa, somewhere in the Italian mountains. There's a beautiful STARLIT SKY, and several hanging LANTERNS scattered about. A group of about THIRTY SLAYERS sit crosslegged in a circle, listening to Andrew.

ANDREW
I love 'Empire'. Of course I love 'Empire',
let's not waste time questioning my loyalties,
but the moment I saw Billy D. in the hizzy
I smelled the troubles. I mean it's great that
George Lucas wanted to have an African-Bespinian
character in the mix, but then he shows up
with the cape and the little bellbottoms and I'm thinking
"Oh, he'd gonna help Han and Chewie just as
soon as he finishes the magic show for the
kids' birthday party." I mean, knock knock, common
sense trying to get in, door's locked, I'll buy a race
of teddy bears with unstoppable tree-trunk technology
any day over that outfit on a leader. That outfit gets
you beat up is what, especially at a... pep rally
in Junior High when you were supposed to be dressed
like a cougar.
(beat)
From a friend I heard that.

>> One wonders if this is based on a real-life conversation Joss Whedon once had, as most of the Trio's speeches tended to be...

ANDREW (cont'd)
So. Does that answer your question?

TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
No.

>> Tank Girl is a comic character invented by British writer Alan Martin. The resemblance here may be a deliberate homage or just coincidence.

ANDREW
'Kay. What, uh, was it again?

TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
Weapons.

ANDREW
Right. Weapons.

TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
How come we have to use all this mediaeval
junk? We could totally get some guns, do
some real damage. We're fighting demons here!
Let's up the ante!

>> She may have a point here. Of course, the problem with upping the ante is that your opponent might match your bet or even raise it. We'll soon see what sort of hardware Twilight has available.

ANDREW
You didn't listen to a word I said, did you?

TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
About Lando Calrissian?

ANDREW
No Slayer carries a gun. Ever, end of talk, good talk.
(Changing subject)
'Kay. Let's start up with headbutts, shall we?
Some do's and don'ts.

>> And Andrew dismisses the point without really answering it. Buffy's own personal quirk of hating guns seems to have been elevated to a rule for the entire Slayer organisation - unless, of course, this is just Andrew being Andrew.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN TARN - DAY
GIANT DAWN is having a BATH in the lake. The foaming WATER conveniently hides her nekkidness and makes this family viewing. XANDER sits on the bank, politely facing away from her. He's dressed in his favourite Sergeant Fury COMBAT GEAR.

>> Dawn appears to be using a giant-sized amount of soap to lather herself up, which will probably pollute the river and kill wildlife for miles downstream... Incidentally, the following scene mostly confirms my suspicion that Joss made Dawn a giant just so he could work in as many giant puns and one-liners as he could.

XANDER
That's overstating it, don't you think?

DAWN
I'm a giant. Everything I state is over.

XANDER
She doesn't hate you.

DAWN
She does. She hates me.

XANDER
I say thee nay.

DAWN
Fine. Nay. Buffy doesn't hate me. She just wishes I'd go away.

XANDER
She wishes you were at Berkeley getting
an education in something other than
stomping villagers, yeah. Doesn't mean she
doesn't like having you around.

DAWN
All she does is yell at me.

XANDER
And you, what, recite sonnets? Sisters fight. It's a rule.

DAWN
What do you know? You don't have a sister.

XANDER
Have you seen this place? I got all my sisters 'n' me!

>> The chorus from Sister Sledge's 1979 hit "We Are Family".

DAWN
Right. Buffy and all her new and improved Slayer sisters.

XANDER
Dawnie... don't roar a giant roar, but...

CLOSE ON DAWN

XANDER(cont'd)
Did you make yourself big on purpose?

>> Xander has always shown a special degree of insight into Dawn's problems - see the end of 'Potential' especially. So he may well be right here.


SPLOOOSH! A giant TSUNAMI WAVE of water SOAKS Xander.

XANDER
(wet)
You know I only have two of these outfits.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SECRET BASE - ESTABLISHING - DAY
The SUN SETS over a bleak desert landscape looking not totally unlike SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. There is a nondescript OFFICE BUILDING with a sign saying "DREXTALCORP RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES".

>> As we will learn in issue #4, this building is a couple of miles south of Sunnydale.

MAN (V.O.)
We have insertion, sir.

DISSOLVE TO:


INT. SECRET BASE CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS

Two men walk down the corridor. We may recognise GENERAL VOLL and the civilian SUIT from Act 1.

>> They were the two men in the helicopter flying over Sunnydale Crater and then looking at Amy in her cell in the military base, remember? The Suit is carrying a briefcase, but otherwise is probably not at all related to the G-man in the Half-Life series.

SUIT (cont'd)
Our op should be in and out by tonight.

VOLL
Should.
(He presses the button on an elevator)
You know how much good 'should' does me?

SUIT
You're gonna say "not much".


INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE - CONTINUOUS

The glass-walled ELEVATOR descends on a pillar into the middle of a vast UNDERGROUND MILITARY BASE. It's like the Initiative on steroids. A couple of TANKS, a helicopter GUNSHIP and two MOBILE MISSILE LAUNCHERS are parked here and there around the concourse, with dozens of SOLDIERS moving around and between them.

VOLL
I'm gonna say a good goddamn deal
more than that. If we have coordinates
on that bitch we should nuke the damn site.

>> ...from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

SUIT
Yeah, okay, that's gonna get us noticed.
Then indicted, then hung.

>> Note the implication here: that Twilight may have access to the US nuclear arsenal, but they're still a covert organisation operating without official sanction. (Unlike the Initiative, which was under Washington's direct control).

VOLL
Hanged.

SUIT
Neither really works for me.

VOLL
(in his face)
I don't expect a suit like you to have the
kind of commitment--

SUIT
What if it doesn't work?

As they talk they're walking through the base.

VOLL
There is no problem so big or complicated
that it can't be blown up. That's not a saying
we share with the public, but...

SUIT
We're dealing with magic. Leave that
to the magicians, okay? Working with
Amy - the op - is the best way to go right now.

By now they're standing outside Voll's OFFICE.

VOLL
And if she blows it? We send that monstrosity
she calls a boyfriend in next?

SUIT
That thing really is gross. And yes, I think we do.

VOLL
I'm gonna get some shut-eye. Wake me
with a report. Let's hope it's a good one.


INT. VOLL'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

VOLL
Suit.

He has a DESK with a computer and some old books, a model BIPLANE, a painting on the wall of a ship, and a BED in one corner. The rest of the speech is his INTERNAL MONOLOGUE.

VOLL (V.O.)
Just a suit. Walks and talks, has by
chance a man in it.
(Begins getting undressed)
Got no idea what's at stake here.

As he takes his SHIRT off, CLOSE on his BARE CHEST. Carved into it is the same MYSTICAL SYMBOL we saw on the two dead men in the TEASER.

>> The beautiful sunset; the mark of the Twilight cult. Incidentally, Voll seems to be in charge here; and surely there can't be many US Army Generals involved in the organisation. It's therefore a reasonable guess that he's the leader of Twilight. However, we don't know that for sure; he might report to somebody even more senior who hasn't appeared yet.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ CORRIDOR - LATER - NIGHT
BUFFY and XANDER walk down a stone corridor towards the BEDROOMS.

>> So: we learn soon that some or all of this scene is actually Buffy's dream - in fact, it's an Amy-induced nightmare. So how much really takes place? The borders on the comic panels switch to black for all these three pages, including the first one in the castle corridor, then go back to white when we're back in real life. That indicates it's all a dream - but leaves open the possibility that it might be Buffy remembering a real conversation in her sleep, before the dream weirdness takes over.

BUFFY
You're saying you think she became a
giant to get my attention?

XANDER
Maybe not consciously, but given her
tsunamic reaction, I'd say I struck a nerve.

BUFFY
But that's so... literal.

>> If Buffy knew she was in a TV show, she might have said "But that's so... season one."

XANDER
Not subtle, no, but: giant. Point being, Dawn's
abandonment issues have abandonment issues:
your mom, Tara, you - twice - plus the fact that
she knows she was actually a construct created
by monks who...
(beat)
She's not real.

They've reached the door to BUFFY's BEDROOM

BUFFY
She's my sister. I've never told her anything else.

XANDER
You made several thousand girls into Slayers
and moved in with them.
(pause)
I'm not saying on purpose, I'm saying maybe
this Thricewise she was dating, this
feminine-hygiene-product Kenny, put a
whammy on her that manifested her internal blah de blah.

>> Another unexplained reference to Thricewises. I wonder if Xander disliked Kenny because he was actually obnoxious, or just because he had the incredible audacity to date Dawn and Xander is being an overprotective big brother/father? Also, the spell Xander thinks Kenny put on Dawn is, by a strange coincidence, the same sort of spell that Amy put on Willow in 'The Killer In Me'.

BUFFY
And once again, sports fans, it's all my fault.

XANDER
Oh, don't go there. There smells of you,
you've been there so often. With the guilt, and--

>> Would Xander really be so blunt and crude to Buffy? Possibly, if he's annoyed with her. On the other hand, the self-blaming part of her subconscious is quite likely to put these words into his mouth during a dream.

CLOSE on BUFFY's EYES as she INTERRUPTS him.

BUFFY
I'm sorry. I'm tired. Just tell me now, so
we don't have to do a whole awkward-dance...
(beat)
...are you coming to bed?

>> And speaking of Buffy's subconscious... :)
We can take this line in several different ways.
1) Buffy would never say such a thing while awake, but she's asleep, and there aren't any other men apart from Xander for miles, and her subconscious is getting seriously horny.
2) This is a nightmare, and Amy's spell is dredging up the things Buffy is afraid of - like falling into a really complicated quasi-incestuous sexual relationship with her best male friend just because he's available and nobody else is.
3) Buffy really is sexually attracted to/in love with (delete as applicable) Xander, and her subconscious is trying to tell her so.
4) This, like the rest of the conversation in the corridor, is an actual memory. Before going to bed this night, Buffy did ask Xander to join her. However, the fact that when we next see her in real life, she's sleeping alone - in a single bed, as well - suggests that it didn't happen. Maybe he convinced her it would be a bad idea? 

Huh? And with that, she TAKES HIS HANDS and DRAWS him through the DOORWAY into her room.


INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

It's quite an austere, old-world room as befits a Scottish castle; wooden floor with a rug, simple old-fashioned furniture, paintings on the wall. Buffy has personalised it with a display of WEAPONS hanging on one wall. There's a WINDOW with curtains here.

>> Notice also that the artwork changes on this page; it's more cartoony, with the characters drawn with less detail. This is not based on an actual memory of Buffy, but purely her imagination. One of the paintings shows Little Nemo, a classic comic character created in 1905 by Winsor McCay: he was a young boy who experienced various odd adventures in his dreams while asleep, just like Buffy is doing now. (Thanks to aycheb for the reference).

XANDER
Buffy, we both know what a horrible mistake that is.

BUFFY
I'll be gentle this time. I can be gentle.

>> 'This time'? So what happened the last time they tried this? And when did it happen?

With that, she leans in to KISS him.

XANDER
(muffled)
BuHMMMNNNNMMM!

At which point his HEAD POPS OFF. By now, alert viewers may begin to suspect this is really a DREAM.

BUFFY
(surprised)
Ooh!

Xander's head still TALKS NORMALLY as it falls to the floor.

XANDER
So, gentle.

BUFFY
Oh, balls.

The WINDOW SHATTERS and a WIND pulls Buffy TOWARDS IT.

BUFFY
No, no, I can't go outside, I'm afraid of the dark.

XANDER
Buffy, you are the dark.

BUFFY
That's what I meant.

>> In other words: Buffy's afraid of the darkness within her. Perhaps a call-back to her soliloquy the previous issue, when despite her outer calm competency she revealed her worries about how she was changing and what she was really doing with her life now.

XANDER
This lint is so Scottish.

And with that she's PULLED OUT THE WINDOW

>> This dream does have a lack of cheese references.

EXT. BUFFY'S DREAMSPACE - CONTINUOUS

We're outside the castle now, except that the SKY is a hellish RED. Buffy BURSTS through the window in a shower of stonework, and PLUNGES groundwards.

BUFFY
I make a wish that I don't fall I make
a wish that I don't fall--

>> Even in her dream, Buffy is struggling to take control of her environment and fighting back against what is happening to her.

From nowhere, giant CLAWS PIERCE her hands and feet, braking her fall.

BUFFY
Aggh! New wish! New wish!

We see that she's impaled on the claws of a GIANT STONY DEMON. Its FACE looms over her.

BUFFY
I know you...

>> The demon doesn't look much like anything we've seen before. Perhaps Buffy's Slayer intuition is sensing that it's Amy?

The demon BREATHES FIRE at her. Buffy SCREAMS.

DEMON
Yesss... ssscream...

CUT TO:

INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Back in the real world, Buffy (in a nightie) is pinned to her BED. The BEDPOSTS have magically WRAPPED THEMSELVES around her wrists and ankles. And standing above her, brandishing a SACRIFICIAL DAGGER, is AMY.

>> With her white gown and supine pose, and Amy with the dagger, this represents the classic human sacrifice tableau. Of course, Buffy isn't as defenceless as she seems, because she has family and friends to help her... It's been commented that her nightie is too skimpy to wear to bed in a draughty Scottish castle, but that's assuming that whoever installed the high tech satellite control systems and communications centre didn't also install central heating. Its old-fashioned style also matches the décor of her room.

AMY
...I couldn't bear it if this was painless.

>> The fact that Amy is finishing the demon's sentence implies that it was her voice Buffy was hearing before, in the dream.

WHAAAM! The DOOR suddenly crashes off its hinges, revealing XANDER in his pyjamas, holding a CROSSBOW. He's backed up by four SLAYERS, likewise in their sleep gear.

>> It looks like the Looney Tunes character Tweetie-pie on his pyjamas.

XANDER
Amy. Long time, no desire whatsoever to see.

>> Xander knew about Amy being de-ratted in season 6, but I don't think they ever actually met then - unless it was off-camera. However, presumably Willow told him all about the penance malediction spell she cast on her in season 7, which is why he's not pleased to see her now.

AMY
Wait. Wait. We can talk about this.

And she STABS BUFFY IN THE CHEST (Note: Buffy is off-camera; we just see the knife go down).

AMY (cont'd)
After.

>> Pretending to agree then contradicting herself like this is something of a trademark of Amy's - remember her response to Kennedy's demand to take the spell off Willow in 'TKIM' - "Okay. Oh wait. No."

Buffy screams (without waking up). Xander looks horrified, then SHOOTS Amy through the shoulder. Two Slayers TACKLE Amy while Xander rushes over to Buffy.

XANDER
Oh my God.

He picks up the DAGGER. Its blade has SPLIT into shards, clearly without having even broken Buffy's skin.

>> Presumably Amy still hit her hard enough to hurt - hence the scream - even if the blade didn't penetrate her chest.

XANDER(cont'd)
This is the crappiest sacrificial dagger I've ever seen.

AMY
(pissed off)
What?

With a magical WAVE of her hands, she SENDS FLYING the two Slayers wrestling her, then DISSOLVES the crossbow bolt through her shoulder.

>> An indication of just how strong Amy has become. Being able to send not one but two Slayers flying and shrug off an arrow through the torso is a Dark!Willow level of power. Incidentally, her surprised and angry reaction to the dagger breaking is a sign that she really did expect to kill Buffy with it.

XANDER
You really think we let Buffy sleep without
mystical protection? This isn't open-wand
night in Sunnydale, sweetcheeks. You're dealing with pros.

>> Another indication that Buffy isn't just leading a bunch of kids anymore; this is a serious organisation with heavy-duty firepower and organisation. Of course, that means that opponents capable of taking her on have to be just as impressive in their own way...

AMY
Any of you pros notice she's still asleep?
She's living a nightmare, genius, and the only
thing that can wake her up...
(beat)
...is the kiss of true love.

ON XANDER, looking incredulous.

XANDER
Seriously?

>> It seems clear from his expression that Xander is taken aback by this. Which is probably a good time to ask exactly what Amy's plan was. We know that the zombie attack which is about to start was intended purely as a diversion to keep the other Slayers out of the way. My assumption is that Amy cast the sleep spell on Buffy as soon as she arrived in the castle in order to keep her unconscious - since Buffy is clearly the most dangerous person there, Amy wanted to make sure she was out of action. The fact that the spell also caused her to experience nightmares of torture was just an added bonus.

Next, I think Amy's plan A was simply to stab Buffy - and, I guess, escape back to Twilight's base and wait for a vengeful Willow to come after her. If that failed, her plan B was to keep Buffy in the mystic coma as bait to draw Willow into a fight, which Amy expected to win. And if that failed, her plan C was a preset magic trap which would open a portal as soon as Willow was physically close enough to her, and pull them both back through to her base. The 'kiss of true love' bit might have been just the way the spell worked (compare the 'perfect happiness' clause on Angel's soul curse, which offers a remarkably similar way to break that spell). Alternatively, Amy might have been counting on lots of confusion and delay as different people tried to break the spell - and as I speculated above, the whole thing was really just to distract everyone until Willow showed up. And lastly, Amy might have leaped to comclusions about Willow, and assumed that sheherself would be the one to kiss Buffy, in which case she was sure to turn up sooner or later.

Or, of course, she might just enjoy messing with people.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - MEANWHILE - NIGHT
RENEE and a BRUNETTE SLAYER are on GUARD DUTY; warmly dressed and holding big weapons.

RENEE
Please. There's no love.

BRUNETTE SLAYER
No, right, of course. The sudden interest in
comic books, James Bond movies and drywalling
has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Harris. I'm
not even bringing up volunteering us for the
frickin' graveyard shift, 'cause that's--

>> Renee, of course, is the Slayer who was flirting with Xander in the previous issue - discussing comic books, in fact. The reference to drywalling is another reminder of the end of season 6 - "I may not be a hopped-up uberwitch but this carpenter can drywall you into the next century."

RENEE
(Interrupting)
You hear that?

BRUNETTE SLAYER
Sounds like... clawing?

As they look over the battlements, CUT TO their POV:

A VAST HORDE of ZOMBIES is CLIMBING the castle wall. There's at least 50, with more behind them. Most of them are dressed in TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH GARB, mostly from many centuries before.

>> Presumably they're locals. One is wearing a Grenadier's cap.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - MEANWHILE - NIGHT
Buffy's still asleep and pinned to her bed. Xander and Amy confront each other over her.

XANDER
So this doesn't have to be someone
she's in love with.

AMY
No, I said. Just someone truly in love with her.

XANDER
But not friend-love.

AMY
Right. Someone who wants to kiss her, like,
they're passionate about her.

XANDER
And not a sister.

AMY
Well, a twisted sister...

>> Possibly a reference to the 80s glam rock band. Or maybe not.

XANDER
Ha! But no, I hate you.

A SLAYER burst into the room.

SLAYER
We're under attack! Full breach on the east wall!

XANDER
Who's breaching?

SLAYER
Living dead, sir!

XANDER
(To Amy, who's grinning)
Man, Amy, you're doing all the classics tonight.
(To the other Slayers)
I need you three in the field.

LEAH
What about th' Bitch a'the West here?

>> It's not easy to tell from this angle, but from her accent and red hair, I'm guessing it's Leah who's speaking here. That implies that the other two with her are Satsu and Rowena: their hair is the right colour, at least. We didn't see them enter the room with Xander, but presumably they followed him in soon after. 'Bitch a'the West' is a Wizard of Oz reference (a pun on the Wicked Witch of the West).

XANDER
She's bound by our security or she'd've
bailed by now.
(To another Slayer)
Keep a guard on her and get our
witches working on this 'true love' crap.

>> Xander still can't quite believe Amy would pull something so corny.

AMY
It's real, Xander. Your star player's out unless
she receives a kiss from someone passionately devoted to her.
(beat)
Care to give it a whirl?

OFF XANDER, who looks distinctly uncomfortable at the thought... 

>> Note the little beads of sweat on his forehead. 

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - NIGHT

The BATTLE is in full flow. SLAYERS and Scottish ZOMBIES locked in mortal combat.

BUFFY (V.O.)
Stop it.

RENEE grimaces in pain as a zombie STABS HER with a BROADSWORD. 

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. BUFFY'S DREAMSPACE - MEANWHILE

All is black here. BUFFY, in her NIGHTDRESS, is curled in a FOETAL POSITION. 

>> Notice how the frame around these three panels changes to black, whereas the other panels all have white frames? That supports the theory that Buffy and Xander's earlier conversation was also completely a dream, because no other panels except for those have black frames in this issue.

BUFFY
Please... it hurts too much...

MAN'S VOICE
You can't give up that easily, Buffy...

>> The close-up of Buffy's eyes here exactly matches the earlier one where she's inviting Xander to her bed; except that here her pupils are less dilated, she looks tired and her hair is lank and falling over her face.

She looks up to see a MAN standing over her, OFFERING HER HIS HAND. He's dressed in a black leather COAT and red t-shirt; his face is obscured. 

>> Oh, the speculation this figure inspired, before we learned next issue that it's actually Ethan Rayne (dressed rather like Spike, admittedly)...

MAN
I have so much I need to show
you... my love...

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

The BATTLE rages. SATSU stabs a zombie while speaking to XANDER over her RADIO.

SATSU
'Kill the head' isn't working! They're
not even slowing down!

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CONTROL ROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

XANDER is looking at the VIEWSCREENS. They're showing CARNAGE, except for one which shows RENEE lying there either unconscious or dead. He's CLUTCHING HIS BROW, unable to speak.

SATSU (by radio)
Orders, sir? Orders?

>> Xander's losing it. Maybe because he's seen Renee go down, although he's not looking at her in this panel. It's just that he doesn't know what to do - and there's no Buffy around to take charge. Things are looking dark...

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

AMY sits casually on the WINDOWSILL, watching the battle outside and chatting to the SLAYER assigned to guard her.

AMY
All that time underground with nothing
to do but get stronger. A hundred
Slayers and there's not one person here
who can take me on.

>> Willow's matching line in 'Two To Go' was "And there's no one in the world with the power to stop me now."

WOMAN'S VOICE
As a friend of mine once said...

OFF AMY, looking SHOCKED, 

CUT TO:

EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

It's WILLOW. Wearing a wiccan-y green dress, silhouetted against the FULL MOON. Oh, and she's also FLOATING IN MID AIR.

WILLOW (Cont'd)
...I'd like to test that theory.

>> While it's an impressive entrance, what's equally impressive is Willow's apparent acceptance of what happened during the season 6 finale. She's not avoiding it; she's quoting Giles's own words to her back at Amy. And she describes Giles as 'a friend of mine', which is not something she'd have done two years earlier... 

>> Willow's dress is very similar to what Tara wore in 'Once More With Feeling', but not identical. I think it's just meant to look Wicca-y. Also, in this picture her eyes are greeny-brown, just as they should be. :-)

>> With Willow's appearance, we've now seen all the regular cast characters from 'Chosen' who survived that episode: Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn.

FADE TO BLACK 

END OF ACT 2.


Comments

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 14:12 (UTC)
Strength of his hero by mysteryof

I love the commentary you put in there, it goes nicely with the transcript. You know I never caught the whole thing with black and white frames. The black frames clearly show that now we're in Buffy's dream while the white ones are reality. I guess her conversation with Xander was a dream.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 19:17 (UTC)

Thanks! The thing with the frames was pointed out to me too; I didn't notice it at first. The same convention is used for Buffy's dream in issue 3 as well, incidentally.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 14:16 (UTC)

VOLL: ...we should nuke the damn site.
SUIT : Yeah, okay, that's gonna get us noticed. Then indicted, then hung.

Maybe why they sent energy rays not bombs through the portal in #4.

It's quite an austere, old-world room as befits a Scottish castle; wooden floor with a rug, simple old-fashioned furniture, paintings on the wall.
Apparently the painting by the door resembles the cartoon character "Little Nemo" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo_in_Slumberland).

Another painting which is visible in several shots of the room after Xander and the Slayers find Amy there looks to be of Elizabeth I. It gets knocked askew during the fight to stop Amy from the stabbing.




Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 14:19 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Apparently the painting by the door resembles the cartoon character "Little Nemo"
So it does. (And yes, I've read Little Nemo). Very appropriate.

OK, I take back a few of the nasty things I said re. the details of the artwork.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 18:45 (UTC)

I hadn't hear of Little Nemo someone on another list pointed it out but the wikipedia article makes it look really cool. Must get it for the boys {g}

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 19:22 (UTC)

Apparently nobody in the Buffyverse notices giant laser beams being fired at people...

Thanks for the heads-up about Little Nemo (which I'd not hard of before) I'll add that.

I'm not sure about the painting of a woman; I agree it looks like Elizabeth I, but given the Scottish setting maybe it's actually Mary Stuart? Plus she's holding a crucifix, and Mary Queen of Scots was a Catholic whereas Elizabeth certainly was not. (Although in the Buffyverse, maybe everybody British is a Catholic? ;-) )

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 1st July 2007 19:50 (UTC)

Laser beams are like neutron bombs, they don't destroy real estate?

I agree it looks like Elizabeth I, but given the Scottish setting maybe it's actually Mary Stuart?
The hair colour says carroty Bess (short for Buffy?) but yes, it would be an odd thing to adorn a castle in the Highlands (it looks like they're more than 2 miles from the nearest Orange March). It may be Buffy just thought she'd found a picture of the Queen of Hearts and a cross is at least more historically likely than a stake for a Queen to be wielding.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 14:20 (UTC)
OMG LIEK SQUEE by buffychit

Your icon!!!! *dies*

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 19:23 (UTC)
willow-dune1

That came out of a conversation with beer_good_foamy over whether Willow's blue eyes are a sign that she's really the Kwisatch Haderach... (As did this icon too).

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st July 2007 20:46 (UTC)
Willow kills people by awmp

whether Willow's blue eyes are a sign that she's really the Kwisatch Haderach...
Of course!!! It's so obvious! She went to study with the Bene Gesserit (which neatly explains the missing year, I'm just surprised she came back so quickly)! Gotta be problematic to feed that spice addiction though... (magic is crack, I *knew* S6 had it right! *g*)

Posted by: lilred26x (lilred26x)
Posted at: 2nd July 2007 15:13 (UTC)

This really does help sort things out. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks!

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