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(Meta) - The Long Way Home #4 - annotated

6th July 2007 (22:40)

And here's the fourth and final part!

Previously on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer':
As Buffy is taken on a guided tour of her - and Amy's - dreams by Ethan Rayne, Willow and Amy fight it out in a magical duel and the Slayers battle the invading zombies. With a little help from Dawn Amy is defeated, and Buffy is woken up by a kiss from an unknown admirer. But when she and Willow try to work out where Amy came from, the witch springs a trap and drags Willow with her back through a portal. And Willow is confronted by a figure out of nightmare...

 

ACT FOUR

EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS OUTSIDE SUNNYDALE - FLASHBACK - NIGHT

This scene uses images from the season 6 episode 'Villains'. WARREN (back when he was still HUMAN and had skin) is SPREADEAGLED between two trees, with VINES lashed about his wrists. The scene is tinted PURPLE and BLACK. The DIALOGUE, however, comes from the PRESENT DAY.

ON WARREN, looking scared.

WARREN (V.O.)
(quoting Willow)
"Bored now."

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE - PRESENT DAY

CLOSE on WILLOW's RIGHT EYE.

WARREN (O.C.)(cont'd)
Do you even remember that that's
what you said? Last two words of
my human life, so I remember probably
better. You were upset.

>> Warren acknowledges here that he no longer has a "human life" - either he's not human, he's not alive, or both.

ON AMY, watching Warren with a grin on her face.

WARREN (O.C.)(cont'd)
Kinda spiraling, is what they say. Which is, hey --
I'm not excusing where I was at, so don't think --
I mean you -- if Amy hadn't been watching you,
she would never have started watching me.
Watching over me.

>> Notice how disjointed and fragmentary Warren's speech and thought processes are; it seems he's not playing with a full deck anymore. In 'The Killer In Me' Amy lets slip that she has been watching Willow, closely enough to know that Kennedy was a Potential Slayer... since there was never any sign of Amy hiding behind a tree in Buffy's garden the way Spike used to, it's clear that this was magical scrying. It seems now that she started doing that way back in season 6.

>> Warren clearly worships Amy as a guardian angel. It's not clear if she thinks of him the same way; her grin looks kind of proprietary, as if he's just something she created to exact revenge on Willow.

CUT TO:

EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS OUTSIDE SUNNYDALE - FLASHBACK - NIGHT

WIDE on Warren tied between the trees. We're looking over WILLOW'S SHOULDER, although she's her PRESENT-DAY SELF watching this flashback rather than being in it.

>> The entire scene is coloured purple and black, except that the image of Willow in the foreground has her natural hair colour. This implies that she's not actually in the scene but standing watching it. (Also when this scene happened in season 6 Willow's hair was black at the time, not red). The scene may be a memory, or it may be that Amy is magically replaying it for Willow's benefit. (Or her hair colour may just be a mistake by the artist, of course...)

WARREN (V.O.)(cont'd)
Do you know she had maybe a four-second
window after my skin came off before I died
of shock alone? That flash-paper disappearing
trick was pretty hokey, we kid about that,
but thinking on your feet? This is the girl. Her
magic is my skin.

>>   beer_good_foamyhas conclusively proven that a lot more than four seconds pass between Willow stripping off Warren's skin, and the moment his body disappeared in a burst of flames. This may be a continuity error, or it may mean that Amy worked her magic from a distance to stabilise or preserve Warren's existence while he was still hanging there, rather than after she teleported him away. Alternatively, maybe Amy lied to Warren, and he did die of shock - so he's now an animated corpse who thinks he's Warren Meers and has his memories, rather than being an actual continuation of him (compare vampires). Maybe she trapped his soul during a four-second period as it fled his body, so she could put it back into his skinless corpse afterwards?

 >> Why didn't Willow know that Warren was teleported away rather than incinerated? We can only assume it's due to her overconfidence in her own powers (something that comes back to bite her in this story too), and not expecting anyone else to intervene. Or, possibly, her spell was actually intended to teleport Warren to, say, the heart of the Sun, and Amy just had to intercept the teleport.

>> Or there is another possibility: that the whole thing is a con by Amy to hurt Willow - it's not really Warren at all but something she created herself. It may be significant that Amy never uses the name "Warren" during the entire story: she always just refers to him as "my boyfriend" or once as "sweetie". In fact, Warren never is named in the comic.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE - PRESENT DAY

ON WARREN - his present day skinless self.

WARREN
That time we came up with the spell for you
and your new girlfriend -- and hey, that
was quick, I was still learning to walk again
and you're already in the fresh trim...
I remember thinking and it comes up
again in this situation, I just have to wonder...

>> He's referring to 'The Killer In Me' here: the Penance Malediction spell that Amy cast on Willow to make her subconscious punish her by turning her into Warren. (AMY: "I planted the spell months ago after that whole 'end of the world' routine... All I had to do was wait for her to punish herself.") We learn now that Warren himself devised the spell with Amy.  Also, note that Warren still has a charming way of talking about women.

ON WILLOW'S EYE. Warren's holding a SCALPEL a millimetre from her eyeball; there are BEADS OF SWEAT on her brow.

WARREN (cont'd)
Are you bored now?

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. OUTSIDE SLAYER HQ - DAY

GIANT DAWN, angry and frustrated, HITS the CASTLE WALL and sends STONEWORK flying. BUFFY, arms folded, stands by her feet and looks up at her sister.

DAWN
Aaaaggkh!

BUFFY
Dawnie, you know you're not as
proportionally strong as you are large.

Indeed, Dawn's knuckles are now BLEEDING.

DAWN
I know! I just -- this hurts a lot -- I
can't let something happen to her.

BUFFY
If they manage to re-open the portal--

DAWN
I'm too big! I get it! I've been super-sized!
I'm useless!

BUFFY
That's not--

DAWN
Just bring her back. I trust you to do
that, I do, Buffy, but do it. I'm not trying to
slam you, I swear, but...
(beat)
...Will is like a Mom to me.

>> In issue #1 Dawn said "Willow understands. She taught me a lot, especially when you were dead." During that time between seasons 5 and 6 Willow and Tara were effectively acting as Dawn's parents - and when they split up, Dawn treated it very much as if her parents were divorcing.

OFF BUFFY, looking hurt

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ DUNGEONS - LATER - DAY

BUFFY and XANDER watch as two MYSTICS read from magical BOOKS and work their SPELLS, trying to re-open the PORTAL. In the background, we see the smashed remnants of the WEAPONS CABINET Buffy broke in Act 3.

>> This scene must be a little later, because Buffy's wearing a different blouse - this one has a plunging neckline, the one she wore outside talking to Dawn was frillier, and she didn't have her cross necklace on then.

XANDER
Oh I bet you loved hearing that.

BUFFY
How much longer?

>> Buffy clearly just told Xander what Dawn said, but she doesn't want to discuss the implications - she's all business now. Dawn's reference to Willow being "like a mom to me" has come in for some criticism in reviews, so it's worth noting that here both Buffy and Xander are themselves somewhat surprised (and upset, in Buffy's case) by what Dawn said. It came out of the blue for them as well.

XANDER
Teleportation's not an exact magic, Buffy. And
good as these girls are, we're not sportin' a
Giles, so... they say a couple hours. Portal echo
big enough for... maybe one or two guys, tops.

>> In 'Blood Ties' Willow and Tara teleported Glory away without knowing exactly where she would end up; and in 'Two To Go' Anya claimed that teleportation wasn't possible for "a witch at Willow's level" - presumably because the destination couldn't be guaranteed with any accuracy. Vengeance demons have no trouble with teleportation, though; and it looks like Amy has now mastered this magic too.

BUFFY
What can I do?

XANDER
Figure out who your moving buddy is.

BUFFY
Xander...

XANDER
I'm not a fighter, I got no magic. If there's
any kind of satellite bounce I'm your eyes
and ears, that's it.
(grim)
It's Will. We play it smart. And we remember
she's stronger than all of us.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE - MEANWHILE

WILLOW's hand is TREMBLING WITH PAIN. There's a GLOWING PINK BOND around her wrist, manacling it to the table.

>> As we later learn from Voll and the Suit, she's been screaming as well.

WARREN (O.C)
And therein lies, it's very operatic,
your downfall. You're just so strong.

ON WILLOW's EYE. HOOKS are now holding her EYELIDS OPEN. A TEAR leaks from the corner of her eye.

WARREN (O.C) (cont'd)
All your power is siphoned into those
bonds. The stronger you get... Try it.
Go dark. I wish you would.

>> To clarify: Willow is held helpless by those glowing pink magical bonds. They're drawing off her power into themselves, so if she tried to use magic to free herself or attack Warren, she'll only strengthen them instead. Warren knows that when Willow gets angry or frightened she can draw on much more powerful darker magic - as we saw in issue #3 - but tells her that this will do her no good; the bonds will absorb it just as well. If anything, he's hoping that the pain and torment of being tortured will cause her to go dark, so he can gloat over seeing the Dark Willow who once tortured him now helpless. He's wrong, though: she has resources (and a kind of strength) he hasn't dreamed of, and will find another way through.

WIDE on Willow strapped to the table as WARREN leans over and STABS HER IN THE EYE with his scalpel. Her body CONVULSES.

>> In issue #3 Willow talked about how any people peeping at who kissed Buffy would lose their eyes; now she's losing hers for real. Also: yuk.

WARREN (cont'd)
I think you might.

CUT TO:

>> The following section is a rapid-fire montage of scenes happening simultaneously or in rapid succession. Warren is torturing Willow; Willow sends her soul to another dimension as a refuge; Buffy assembles the other Slayers, tells them what's happening, and asks Satsu to join her in the rescue mission; and Satsu gets her stuff ready as the other Slayers watch her.

INT. SLAYER HQ ASSEMBLY ROOM - MEANWHILE

ON BUFFY, addressing the gathered Slayers

BUFFY
Satsu.

CUT TO:

EXT. ALTERNATE DIMENSION - MEANWHILE

Five SPIRITS gather around a BURNING FLAME. They are all mystical, possibly divine figures, all female. From left to right: TREE SPIRIT, with bark-like skin and leaves for hair; WATER SPIRIT, composed of solid water; PATCHWORK SPIRIT, with skin divided equally into yellow and green halves, a red check dress, and long hair like Willow's own in season one; ANIMAL SPIRIT, hairy like a werewolf, and INTELLECT SPIRIT, white and two-dimensional and covered in scientific formulae.

>> Who they are is a mystery. I've hypothesised before that they represent different parts of Willow's own personality - perhaps because the bonds around her wrists prevent Willow using her power outwards to affect the world, but still allow her to turn it inwards and find refuge from the pain deep inside herself. Alternatively they could appear that way just because it's how she perceives them through the filter of her human perceptions: they could be elemental spirits or deities of some kind that Willow has befriended. The names and descriptions of them I give here are only my own interpretations, and could be wrong.

WATER SPIRIT
For goodness sake, yes. Grant her access.

>> The water spirit seems to be the leader, or at least the spokeswoman. Note the implication that Willow has to plead for admittance into this place of refuge; she couldn't just enter it without permission. The water spirit also shows great compassion - she is clearly moved by Willow's request and her implied pain and distress - which is quite unusual for supernatural beings in the Buffyverse. (Compare the Oracles of the Powers That Be on 'Angel', who were supposed to be good guys but acted in a wholly unsympathetic way).

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ ASSEMBLY ROOM - CONTINUOUS

ON THE SLAYERS, listening to Buffy speak. We see SATSU, ROWENA and LEAH among the crowd.

BUFFY
(to Satsu)
Get your favourite blade and be ready
for anything and the mother of anything.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE CORRIDOR - MEANWHILE

The corridor just outside the room where Warren is torturing Willow. GENERAL VOLL and the SUIT, looking concerned, are confronting AMY.

SUIT
We heard screaming.

VOLL
And you've disabled our cameras.

>> The Suit seems to be rather squeamish; Voll is all business. This reflects their earlier conversation in issue #2 when Voll was so dismissive of his colleague and his supposed lack of commitment to the cause.

AMY
I know, I'm sorry, but guys: there is no way
Buffy is not gonna come after this subject.
You just have that big atomo-phallic thing
pointed at the portal and you'll get your Slayer.
She'll come after this witch like a dog after
dogshit, I swear to God. But the witch belongs
to my boyfriend. They have a history.

>> Again, I've unbowlderised what Amy said in the comic to what she really said. She's also just as sarcastic as ever, and not exactly respectful about the boys and their toys. Also, as I said earlier, note that again she refers only to "my boyfriend"; she never once uses the name 'Warren'.

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ - MEANWHILE

Amy's dialogue continues as we watch Buffy open a cabinet to take the SCYTHE.

AMY (V.O.) (cont'd)
She's kind of a history major.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SATSU'S ROOM - MEANWHILE

>> I'm not sure if this is Satsu's private room and the others have come into to watch her get ready, or if it's a communal dormitory which they all share. Satsu's yellow lunchbox has 'Speed Racer' on the side, referring to the 1960s Japanese animated cartoon series (which is currently being made into a live-action film due out next year). She also has a small toy dinosaur, much in the style of Wash on 'Firefly'.

SATSU is taking her KATANA from where she keeps it under her BED. About eight other SLAYERS watch her, including LEAH and  ROWENA (who is looking SULKY).

SATSU
It should've been one of you.

LEAH
(teasing)
Ya dinna think we know that? Personally,
I think Buffy jus' wants ta die looking at your
great hairdo, but it's her that's boss.

>> For those who don't speak Scottish, she said "You don't think we know that?" It's clear that the Slayers are all aware that this is a dangerous mission ("She just wants to die looking at your great hairdo"), but they also see it as an honour to be chosen to accompany Buffy. ("Don't embarrass us"). Rowena looks upset that Satsu was chosen for the mission instead of her - or perhaps she's worried that Satsu is going to her death (in the second frame her mouth is open and eyes wide - it looks rather like she was sulking at not being chosen at first, but then Leah's comment about dying suddenly shocked her into realising that she might never see Satsu again.) Leah is much more light-hearted about it all.

>> The reference to the hairdo refers to Buffy complimenting Satsu's hair at the start of issue #2. Leah seems to be turning what might be a dig about Buffy showing favouritism into a friendly joke; we don't know if any of the other Slayers are less sanguine about the matter. Or if Leah suspects that Satsu was the one who kissed Buffy in issue #3...

ON SATSU'S EYES, reflected in the BLADE of her SWORD

LEAH (cont'd)
Don't embarrass us.

>> A moment of self-reflection, literally. Satsu's gaze is level and introspective. Perhaps she's interpreting "don't embarrass us" in a different way: Leah means "don't fight badly and show us all up," but Satsu is thinking "don't let your feelings for Buffy slip out and affect how you behave around her"?


DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ DUNGEONS - SOON AFTER - DAY

The room is now a hive of activity as Slayers and mystics mill about. In the background, XANDER is giving orders. BUFFY and SATSU prepare for battle; dressed in BODY ARMOUR and carrying their WEAPONS (Satsu's katana, Buffy with the Scythe).

>> We don't see them from this angle, but they're also both wearing radio sets on their left ears which have a little camera that curves around under their ear and looks forward, connected to Xander's control screens. Satsu is wearing metal shoulder guards, and she's glued a pink teddy bear's head to the right one.

BUFFY
Kill any demon you see. Humans you go
for the wound unless they get stupid.

SATSU
Humans?

>> Buffy's always believed that killing humans is not her job; she's still just about sticking to that rule here, but has become quite a bit more ruthless. Of course, she's angry and worried about Willow. (And she has killed humans before; the Knights of Byzantium in 'Spiral' being the most obvious example).

BUFFY
Willow said Amy's magic was mixed with
technology. You fight with me, not next to
me, do I need to say that again?

SATSU
No ma'am.

BUFFY
Did you bring any lip gloss?

>> The new adult Buffy may have succumbed to wearing combat gear instead of miniskirts and halter tops when she goes into battle, but she's still concerned about looking good. It's also a classic Buffy moment to interrupt her big, portentous eve-of-battle order-giving speech with a comment about make-up; and it's indicative that Buffy's comfortable enough with the other Slayers to ask to borrow lip gloss from them - she wouldn't have in season 7.

SATSU
Oh yeah.

BUFFY
I'm all cracky.

Satsu hands Buffy her LIP GLOSS

BUFFY
We get Willow and we get out. If she can't
leave for any reason then neither can I.
If I tell you to bail you do it without a word, you
get out and regroup.
(she applies the lip gloss)
Hnh.

Something about the lip gloss REMINDS BUFFY OF SOMETHING

BUFFY
Cinnamon.

>> When she woke from her nightmare sleep in issue #3, she said "Cinnamon buns!" Now she realises Satsu's lip gloss tastes of cinnamon. As she says it, Satsu watches her out of the corner of her eye: she's possibly thinking "Has she figured out it was me?" If she has, we're not told.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ALTERNATE DIMENSION - MEANWHILE

The five SPIRITS watch as the figure of WILLOW - TINY in comparison to them - DROPS DOWN into this dimension.

ANIMAL SPIRIT
This refuge is only temporary, as you know.

WATER SPIRIT
We cannot undo what is happening
on your plane, but your heart can bide here
with us until you are free.

>> In other words; Willow is unable to use her magic to escape because of the magical bonds Amy and Warren have secured her with. She can, however, send her "heart" - her consciousness, her soul - within herself to this other dimension. As the spirits warn her, however, it's only a temporary refuge. Warren is still torturing her to death; this magic will only allow her to die without feeling the physical and mental pain.

Willow COMES TO A LANDING (although we can't actually see the floor - all is blackness and shifting red light here). She is now THE SAME SIZE as the other figures.

>> Did they shrink to her size to make her welcome, or did she grow to theirs because she's their equal?

WILLOW
Would that be free as in "unbound" or
free as in the other thing?

>> The "other thing" being her death, of course.

WATER SPIRIT
We can't know and won't try.
Look over the edge.

Willow and the Water Spirit walk to where a ROCKY CRAG looks out over a SEETHING INFERNO. Red and orange pools of flame spin and turn, while tiny human FIGURES are WHIRLED AROUND within the maelstrom.

WILLOW
This is me.

WATER SPIRIT
Yes. We hide your agony by reformulating
its presentation. What you've seeing is
possibility. Thoughts, courses of actions,
pieces of what you could be. Ending.
(beat)
He's lobotomising you. Do you have a plan?

>> Willow removed Warren's skin. Now Warren is removing her brain - something that strikes directly at Willow's self-identity and role as the most intellectual and intelligent of the Scoobies. Note that the water spirit is deliberately not interfering in Willow's affairs: they have granted her a place of refuge and are concerned about her, but they're not going to take any action or even advise her themselves. It's up to her (and Buffy).

OFF WILLOW, looking stricken

>> Just because she seems so calm and serene later when she knows Buffy is coming to her rescue doesn't mean that she's not terrified now.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE PORTAL ROOM - MEANWHILE

A vast concrete-floored UNDERGROUND CHAMBER. Dozens of heavily armed SOLDIERS wait ready, while their OFFICERS supervise from raised WALKWAYS. In the centre is a giant RAY GUN - Amy's "atomo-phallic thing" - mounted facing the portal. A GREEN BLOB OF LIGHT suddenly appears hanging in space in the centre of the room.

OFFICER
We got movement! It's opening! Everybody clear!

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ DUNGEONS - CONTINUOUS

The MYSTICS are opening the portal at their end. XANDER gives his final instructions.

XANDER
Get it in place! You got zero seconds!
(to Buffy)
Buf, if that thing's any use it'll be
right away. You jump after and land fighting.

>> The thing he's talking about "getting into place" is the big parabolic mirror we'll see shortly.

BUFFY
(sarcastic)
Yes sir Mister Watcher sir.

>> And again Buffy jokes about Xander being a Watcher. (And has a gentle dig to remind him who's in charge here).

XANDER
I'll Watcher your butt, lady.

BUFFY
Your grammar is not so much.

XANDER
Bring me back a witch.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE PORTAL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The giant atomo-phallic ray gun HUMS as it charges up to fire.

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ DUNGEONS - CONTINUOUS

Buffy and Satsu stand silhouetted by green light as the PORTAL opens.

>> Although presumably they then step aside before the big ray beam comes through...

XANDER
It's open!

>> Actually, I'm only assuming Xander says that. It could be one of the soldiers instead.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE PORTAL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

OFFICER
Fire!

THOOM! The giant ray gun FIRES straight into the open portal, which swallows its ENERGY BEAM. Nearby soldiers recoil and shield their eyes.

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ DUNGEONS - CONTINUOUS

The energy beam emerges from the portal - and hits a GIANT PARABOLIC MIRROR on a wheeled wooden frame that the Slayers have pushed into place. The beam is REFLECTED BACK THROUGH THE PORTAL.

>> While a funny scene, this does seem a little convenient: how did the Slayers know that Twilight would fire a ray gun rather than some other weapon through the portal? It's possible that the mirror was in fact magical (Xander implies as much) and would have reflected back whatever sort of weapon or spell Twilight sent through - but the writer chose to make it a ray gun because that's the most obvious visual effect to let the reader know exactly what's happening, without having to explain. Or alternatively, perhaps the mystics opening the portal were able to get a sneaky early glimpse through it (as Willow did earlier in issue #3) and saw the ray gun being prepared.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE PORTAL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

KRWHUHBOOM! The reflected energy beam HITS the atomo-phallic ray gun and BLOWS IT TO SMITHEREENS. Soldiers scream in pain and panic as they are thrown around by the blast. BURNING WRECKAGE and SPARKING POWER CABLES litter the room.

XANDER (O.C)
Magic.
(On Xander)
It's all done with mirrors.

OFFICER
Sound off! Who's hurt?
STAY CALM, DAMMIT!

BUFFY
No.
Panic.

She and Satsu appear in the middle of the room, and the fight is on.

It's a confused, crowded melee as the soldiers try to shoot them or club them with their rifles, but the two SLAYERS dance through the middle of the fight, untouchable. Buffy shatters a soldier's helmet with the Scythe then parries a blow from a rifle while punching a pistol out of a third soldier's hand, while Satsu deflects a blow with her sword and knocks two soldiers down with her fist. She then watches in admiration as Buffy steps on one soldier's head, somersaults over the crowd and knocks over another who was about to hit Satsu. Side by side, the two Slayers then finish the job; and Buffy KICKS the OFFICER in the mouth, knocking him to the ground.

>> We see numerous bullets whizzing around, but neither Buffy nor Satsu get hit by them. In such close quarters, the soldiers would actually be lucky not to hit each other... The second panel even seems to show Satsu deflecting a bullet with her katana, Jedi-style, which would have to mean it was a magic sword, or at least one of those mythical katanas from Western popular culture that can cut through solid steel without breaking.

>> An axe and a sword don't exactly seem like the best weapons to use on normal humans if you're trying not to kill them; we see both Buffy and Satsu punching and kicking as well as cutting, but they are slashing their weapons about too. Maybe they're inflicting shallow cuts that bleed a lot and are incapacitatingly painful, but not fatal?

>> As Buffy clamps her thighs around a man's face (what a way to go...), Satsu is watching her and smiling. The same man was about to hit Satsu with the butt of his rifle, so perhaps it's a smile of thanks; or maybe she just really enjoys watching Buffy in action. :-)

>> In the fight scene, we first get to see the little ear-mounted cameras I mentioned earlier.

Within minutes, they're the only ones left standing in a room full of bleeding or unconscious men. Buffy addresses the officer she just kicked down.

>> Judging by the stars on his shoulders he's either a Captain or a Lieutenant; being an older man, I'd guess Captain.

BUFFY
So. We tried to be nice here but some
of these men are dying. There's one
person in this complex powerful enough
to heal them. You can tell me where she is...
(flat)
Or.

>> And again, a new ruthless Buffy; using the wounded as bargaining counters. She seems to have got into the habit of starting sentences with "So." now - she was doing it a lot in #2 as well.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ CONTROL ROOM - SOON AFTER

XANDER is watching his VIEWSCREENS when they suddenly become ACTIVE. One shows Buffy's POV, the other Satsu's.

>> Buffy's POV shows her holding the Scythe out in front of her; Satsu's shows her katana, and Buffy standing just in front of her. However, there's a third screen which shows Buffy holding her finger to her lips! This must be a time-lapse image from Satsu's camera: note that in the screen on the right, Buffy is watching the shadow of an approaching guard and holding out her right hand in caution. She must have turned to face Satsu, made the "sssh!" gesture, and then turned back to the guard; Xander's screen is showing both the real-time and the 30-seconds-earlier views. Why he's got it set up like that, I really couldn't imagine...

XANDER
Hey, we're up! What's the what?

BUFFY
(by radio)
Military installation. Initiative-y, but way
more of your tax dollars at work.

XANDER
Willow?

BUFFY
(by radio)
We're en route.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE CORRIDORS - CONTINUOUS
 
Buffy and Satsu make their way cautiously through the base. A GUARD tries to stop them, but Buffy disables him with a SWIFT KICK.

XANDER
(by radio)
Amy'll be waiting for you.

BUFFY
You got any idea where all this is?

XANDER
(by radio)
Yeah, G.P.S. is coming up... wow.

>> The GPS system feeds through satellites to give Xander Buffy's location. It's unclear why it didn't work before, unless Buffy simply forgot to switch on her transmitter (or left it off deliberately until after the fight). Alternatively, maybe the portal chamber was too far underground for the GPS and radio signals to penetrate, but Buffy and Satsu have now gone up a few levels nearer to the surface.

BUFFY
Where are we?

XANDER
(by radio)
About two miles south of Sunnydale.

BUFFY
(to herself)
Sunnydale. Well. I'm the one
who wanted to go home.

>> From issue #1. "I miss my home. I miss my mom. I miss the gang. And churros. And sex." Given the shape and direction of the Californian coast in that region, two miles south of Sunnydale would actually be under the Pacific Ocean, so Xander's comment probably shouldn't be taken literally...

And she and Satsu turn a corner to find AMY waiting for them. FLOATING CROSS-LEGGED in mid air, light comes from her hands as she SUMMONS A DEMON.

>> Floating in mid-air seems to be the 'in' thing for powerful witches. Willow did it in 'Tough Love' when she attacked Glory, and she and Tara did a fair bit of floating around in their time as well, but in a comic you don't have to pay a special effects budget so you can have your witches float every time they cast a spell.

>> And, of course, it's been known ever since the Middle Ages that witches float. (And, therefore, weigh the same as a duck).

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ALTERNATE DIMENSION - MEANWHILE

WILLOW and the WATER SPIRIT watch the misshapen human figures still tumbling past them.

WATER SPIRIT
Your body is almost dead. You
can't come back from a natural death,
dear. Not even you. Do you not fear?

>> An oblique reference to Tara's death, which couldn't be reversed because it was a 'natural, human death'. This now seems to be a fundamental magical law of the Buffyverse (although in issue #1 General Voll's expert told us "there are no rules" in magic). Mind you, the definition of "natural" and "mystical" death seems a little unclear: evidently being carved into pieces by an animated skinless corpse is natural, while falling through a portal and hitting the ground at high speed is mystical... 

>> The water spirit is being compassionate, even motherly again here. Also, by saying that "not even Willow" can come back from a natural death, she's strongly implying that Willow could resurrect herself if she ever died of mystical causes...

WILLOW
Did I ever tell you about my best friend?

A SHAPE starts to form in Willow's hand out of MAGICAL GREEN LIGHT. It looks similar to the SCYTHE that Buffy's holding.

>> That's an assumption on my part, but there's a curvy section around her hand, and a long straight shaft extending up past her head, and she's holding it in exactly the same way that Buffy's holding the Scythe. 

>> The 'essence of the Scythe' was what allowed Willow to awaken all the Potentials in 'Chosen'. Its power is clearly tied fundamentally to the Slayer line, which is why both Buffy and Faith knew it was theirs as soon as they held it. My assumption is that when she used the Scythe in her spell Willow also linked herself permanently to it, and it's this that forms the bond between her and Buffy.

>> Incidentally, the phraseology of Willow's question "Did I ever tell you..." implies that she and the water spirit have met before, maybe several times.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE CORRIDORS - CONTINUOUS

ON BUFFY, watching Amy. WILLOW'S VOICE seems to COME FROM BUFFY now.

WILLOW/BUFFY (cont'd)
I like to think, in a way, that she's
a part of me. That even when she's
gone, a part of her is with me.

>> Buffy's lips aren't moving, which implies that we're hearing Willow's voice. (If this were on TV, I wonder if they would have dubbed Alyson's voice over Sarah saying the words? In a comic, they have to take a different approach).

Buffy's EYES TURN BLACK, just like Willow's do when she uses powerful magic

WILLOW/BUFFY (cont'd)
'Cause it is.

>> Just to make clear what's going on here: Willow's body is still trapped, and almost dead of torture now. Her soul and consciousness escaped to the parallel dimension, but that was only a temporary stop-gap; she couldn't save herself. That's up to Buffy, who's now on her way to the rescue. However, Willow can use her mystical bond to Buffy to effectively shift her consciousness into her; and let Buffy use her power. They're a melded entity, similar to what they created in 'Primeval' except without the participation of Xander and Giles. The clamps around Willow's wrists don't siphon away the power because it's not the Willow that's chained down who's using it; it's Buffy (and the part of Willow that's bonded to Buffy).

>> Throughout this story there have been constant references to the need for the Slayers to work and fight together as a single unit, instead of as a bunch of separate individuals. In this scene Buffy and Willow are taking that concept to the ultimate degree. It's also continuing the theme of 'Chosen': that the best way to handle power is to share it and empower others.

ON SATSU, searching the body of a fallen soldier.

SATSU
I got one, sir.

XANDER
(by radio)
On my mark, piña colada.

>> Grenades are sometimes called 'pineapples' in military slang (from their appearance): a piña colada is a cocktail made of rum, pineapple juice and coconut juice. Given the code name, this seems to be a combat manoeuvre that the Slayers have rehearsed previously.

ON BUFFY, who is now CRACKLING WITH GREEN MAGICAL ENERGY. A round ENERGY SHIELD appears in her left hand to fend off Amy's blue magic BLASTS, while a glowing green GAUNTLET encases her right arm as she PUNCHES the demon Amy summoned.

However, Amy isn't impressed. She summons a black magical sphere.

AMY
This is a lightshow. You haven't got
a particle of her strength.

>> Since Buffy is actually using Willow's magic, Amy is wrong here. Buffy has all of Willow's strength, plus her own.

BUFFY
I saw your dreamspace, Amy.

>> That was in issue #3 when she and Ethan were looking around in there, remember?

AMY's POV - Buffy has turned into AMY'S MOTHER.

>> The image of Catherine is continuing Buffy's speech. Plus, in this panel she's surrounded by a crackling green halo of energy; in the next panel, we see Buffy confronting Amy, seen from behind Buffy, and Buffy's surrounded in the same energy field. And the panel after that shows Amy still seeing her mother, not Buffy. In other words, this is an illusion that Amy's seeing.

BUFFY (cont'd)
I saw your nightmare.

>> Back in 'The Witch', we saw that Amy was thoroughly dominated and cowed by her mother - when Catherine stole Amy's body, Amy didn't dare ask for help but just sat around the house eating brownies, and tried to get rid of Buffy and Giles when they came visiting. Buffy's visit to Amy's dreamspace must have revealed that Amy still has nightmares about her mother - and Buffy realised that this would prove a useful weapon in a fight.

XANDER
(by radio)
Now!

Satsu throws a GRENADE, which ricochets off the wall twice and lands at Amy's feet. Amy doesn't notice - she's too busy staring at Buffy (who, to her, looks like CATHERINE MADISON).

AMY
(stricken)
Mom...?

The grenade EXPLODES.

>> But it doesn't kill her; presumably she teleports away just in time. The implication, though, is that doing this - and shielding herself from the blast - drains enough of her power that she doesn't stay to fight any longer.

>> Victory in this fight required Willow's magic; Buffy's insight into Amy's hidden weakness - which she obtained thanks to Ethan; Xander's planning ability; and both Slayers' fighting prowess. It was a team effort.

CUT TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE TORTURE CHAMBER - CONTINUOUS

WARREN, holding a BLOODSTAINED SCALPEL, looks up in horror as Buffy, followed by Satsu, breaks down the door.

>> Note that Buffy's holding the Scythe in the first panel, later Satsu's got it. Presumably Buffy passed it to her - or dropped it - when she saw Willow.

WARREN
No!

BUFFY
You. Who?

>> Buffy doesn't recognise Warren.

AMY suddenly MATERIALISES behind Warren, puts her arms around him, and the two of them TELEPORT AWAY.

AMY
Time to go, sweetie.

WARREN
This isn't over, Slayer.
(as he vanishes)
I just do not get tired of saying that...

>> As far as I can tell from a search, Warren has never actually used those words to Buffy before. In 'Gone' he said "You may've beaten us this time, Slayer. But next time..." which is probably the closest.

But Buffy doesn't care, because she's just seen what Warren has LEFT OF WILLOW (we only see her body; her head is off-camera).

BUFFY
Will!
(ripping away the magical bonds)
Nnnaaah!

>> Given Buffy's shriek and her expression, and the water spirit's words to Willow that "Your body is almost dead" we can guess that Willow's appearance at this point is enough to give her friend nightmares for weeks. Incidentally, the pink thing in Buffy's hand is one of the magical restraints around Willow's wrists. It was proof against Willow's magic, but not Buffy's brute force.

Willow's HAND comes up and touches a horrified Buffy's shoulder.

>> The hand that was just freed when Buffy tore away its restraint. Willow may be just checking that this really is Buffy, or she might be going to borrow some of her strength to help her cast a healing spell on herself (compare the final scene in 'Same Time, Same Place').

WILLOW
Buffy?

REVEAL WILLOW - and there isn't a mark on her. She looks JUST FINE, and she's smiling.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Problem?

>> Despite being on the point of death moments before, Willow can now heal herself back to full health. That's even more power than she had in 'Same Time, Same Place' when the healing took her a much longer time. However, it's not clear that she could have done this until Buffy removed the mystical bonds that were draining away her power.

>> Even if she could have cast healing spells on herself during her torture, Warren could have just kept right on cutting into her until all of Willow's power was exhausted and she couldn't heal herself anymore. In other words, for all her power Willow was in genuine danger here, and would have died if Buffy hadn't rescued her.

>> Being perky and joking in the face of death is a classic Willow trait (indeed, a classic Scooby trait, although Xander might object to being described as 'perky').

CUT TO:

INT. SLAYER HQ CONTROL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

XANDER is watching as his SCREENS show a relieved Buffy helping a shaky-looking Willow get up. Two SLAYERS are HUGGING, another is GRINNING, and the entire room is SHAKING as DUST falls from the ceiling.

XANDER
Okay, let's stop patting ourselves
on the back till we have extraction.
(beat)
And someone ask Dawn to stop
jumping up and down.

>> The brownish smears falling from the top of the panel are dust, presumably shaken loose by the violence of a 50-foot tall Dawn jumping up and down in excitement just outside. Although she's smiling, Willow also has shadows around her eyes in the viewscreen, and Buffy is having to help her up with a hand on her shoulder: hence my description of her as 'shaky'.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE CORRIDORS - SOON AFTER

Buffy, Willow and Satsu make their way past UNCONSCIOUS GUARDS  and CELL DOORS to the exit. One cell is marked with a big NUMBER 030.

WILLOW
I don't have a bunch of healing left,
but I should be able to stop the worst of it.

>> Another indication that despite her smile, healing herself like that was exhausting for Willow.

BUFFY
You can turn them into moss, as long
as it's healthy moss. I promised to--
(she sees the cell door)
Hey. Déjà thing. Roman numerals. Triple X. Thirty.
Okay, Ethan.

>> A reference to episode #3 and Buffy's dream, where Ethan was trapped inside three 'X's and said to her "I'm more an antique Roman than a Dane".

Buffy BREAKS DOWN the door.

BUFFY (cont'd)
You got yourself a "get out of jail free"
card. But if I hear the words "my" or "love"...

>> Despite Ethan being evil and trying to kill her on several occasions, Buffy does have a sense of fair play and meets her obligations. The 'Get out of jail free' card is a reference to the board game Monopoly, just in case anyone didn't know...

CUT TO:

INT. ETHAN'S CELL - CONTINUOUS

A bare cell, concrete walls and floor, narrow bunk with sheets trailing down onto the floor. And ETHAN RAYNE is here, but Buffy won't be rescuing him... he's DEAD. Shot through the head.

ON BUFFY, WILLOW AND SATSU, looking shocked, when there's the 'KLIK' of a GUN being cocked.

WILLOW
Buffy!

REVEAL GENERAL VOLL, about to shoot Buffy. But she turns and grapples him; his gun GOES OFF HARMLESSLY, then she THROWS HIM against the wall. His SHIRT RIPS OPEN as she does.

BUFFY
(to Willow)
Heal the soldiers and see who
else they've got in these cells.

VOLL
No one worth much. The only one who
could have helped you was Rayne.

>> Clearly Voll has heard that Buffy was loose in the base - he wasn't in the room with the portal and missed the big fight. And so he immediately made his way to Ethan's cell and shot him. That both shows how ruthless Voll can be, and makes us wonder what information Ethan had and how he could have helped Buffy.

ON VOLL's CHEST, showing the SYMBOL carved there.

>> The same Twilight symbol we saw on Voll's chest in issue #2.

BUFFY
The mark...

VOLL
Twilight.
(beat)
Is coming. For you, for all your
monstrous spawn... it all ends very soon.

>> This is the first time we're told the name of Voll's organisation, although in #3 Ethan foreshadowed it by saying "Twilight is falling".

BUFFY
(pissed off)
Are you talking about the girls
who are protecting the world from--

VOLL
Evil? Demons? Where do you think your
power comes from? Oh wait: you already know .
You've upset the balance, girl. Do you
really think we were going to sit by and
let you create a master race?

>> This is interesting; Voll clearly knows that the Slayers' power comes from a demon (as shown in 'Get It Done') but Buffy herself didn't know that until that episode. So either she's not keeping the source of the Slayers' power a secret now that there are thousands of them, and that information has got back to Voll - or he already knew about it, which could mean he has a link to the old Watchers' Council records...

>> Of course, there is an argument to be made that the Slayer power is not demonic in itself, even if its origin was "the heart of the demon" - any more than a child conceived through rape is herself tainted by the nature of her father. But that's a separate philosophical question, and given what he knows about Slayers Voll's attitude to them is actually perfectly logical and defensible.

BUFFY
This isn't about demons at all, is it? It's
about women. It's about power and it's
about women and you just hate those
two words in the same sentence, don't you?

>> Given that the last Big Bad she faced was Caleb - in her own words, a "woman-hating prick" ('Touched') - it's not surprising that Buffy leaps to conclusions about Voll's motivation here too. Especially since she has bad memories of the military from season 4.

>> Note that, once again, those three little words make an appearance on 'Buffy': "It's about power". That's now the fifth time somebody's used them on the show. (Willow in 'Two To Go', Buffy in 'Lessons', The First also in 'Lessons', and Amy in 'The Killer In Me'.)

VOLL
You think it's only men want to bring you down?
(beat)
You're not human. You've been to war with
the demons, with The First, but believe
me you picked the wrong side. 'Cause
God help us, if you win then you'll decide
the world still isn't the way you want it
and the demon in you will say just one thing. 
"Slay".

>> And Voll shoots down Buffy's assumption that it's about gender politics. Of course he may be deluding himself a little: other than Amy herself, the only woman we've seen so far working for Twilight was a nurse in the background of one of the secret base scenes. But for now we may as well take him at his word that his organisation does include women.

>> Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely; and he who fights monsters should take care lest he become a monster. From Voll's perspective, Slayers are a self-elected and fundamentally untrustworthy elite making decisions on what's best for the world without asking the opinion of the rest of us. They're a threat to humanity. (There may well be a political comment and implied criticism of US policy and the War on Terror buried here too, with the Slayers taking the role of global policeman that the current US Administration is said to claim for itself).

CLOSE ON VOLL

VOLL (cont'd)
We're not waiting for that to happen.
We will wipe you out. Not just monsters
anymore. It's you against the world.
You're at war with the human race.

ON BUFFY, taken aback by that.

BUFFY
Oh.

She looks to the side, looks down, closes her eyes. But when she opens them and looks up again, her face is cold, fierce and determined.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Kay.



BLACKOUT

END OF SHOW

>> "We just became an army. We just declared war...
There's only one thing on this earth more powerful than evil. And that's us."


Also, since this is my last post in the series here's my synopsis of the final episode in the style of the other three. 

(Incidentally, I gather that the US Region 1 DVDs don't actually have the "Previously..." sections at the start of each episode? So this may be an unfamiliar cultural concept to some of you out there. :-) )


Previously on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer':
Willow is held a helpless prisoner as Warren starts to torture her to death. But Buffy's on the way to rescue her. Helped by Xander and the Slayer organisation and with Satsu fighting at her side, she battles her way through the massed ranks of Twilight and forms a mystic bond with Willow to defeat Amy and free her friend. But when she decides to take a detour and free Ethan too in return for his help, she finds him dead - and General Voll informs her that the Slayers have chosen the wrong side, and are now at war with the human race...

 

And that's a wrap. Hope you enjoyed it. :-)
Grr. Arggh.

Comments

Posted by: spikeNdru (spikendru)
Posted at: 8th July 2007 20:51 (UTC)
Thanks so much

Again, a very informative explanation of what was going on that I didn't actually see in the comics. Your comment about Voll already knowing the soure of the Slayer power, possibly through a link to the former Watcher's Council is very interesting, and may tie in to the ninjas in "Lineage", whose goal seemed to be to drain Angel's power. They would also see Angel as demonic as they see the Slayers. Buffy's rant makes sense if she was equating the General with Caleb, and Maggie Walsh/The Initiative already tried to kill her.

I hate that we don't get the "previously ons" on R1 DVDs. Especially for "The Gift", in which the Previously on . . . was a major part of the 100th episode. I think they finally stuck it on a S7 disc, but that does no good when you're watching S5 discs. I really enjoyed the Previously on . . . when they were shown on TV - I don't know why they weren't included on the DVDs!

Thank you again for these wonderful comic scripts. I'll look forward to more when additional issues come out!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th July 2007 23:59 (UTC)

Your comment about Voll already knowing the soure of the Slayer power, possibly through a link to the former Watcher's Council is very interesting, and may tie in to the ninjas in "Lineage"

I was thinking the same thing - especially since the ninjas were never explained otherwise. But they did regard themselves as the forces of good fighting against evil, and they had an incredibly intimate knowledge of the old Watchers' Council - just like Twilight.

Buffy's rant makes sense if she was equating the General with Caleb

It made sense to me even without that. :-)


Oh, and apparently "US audiences don't like 'previouslys'" - I think that 'wisdom' came from consumer testing or some such...

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th July 2007 00:04 (UTC)

Willow's blue eyes

'Continuity error' is the general consensus. :-) However, on this read-through I did notice that her eyes are brown on the last page of #2 where she first appears - they're blue in #3 and #4 during her fight with Amy and afterwards. red_in_leather did suggest that when she "absorbed Amy's mojo" (which was shown as blue in colour) during that fight, her eyes turned blue to match. Which is at least a neat theory...

Posted by: hobgoblinn (hobgoblinn)
Posted at: 12th July 2007 00:22 (UTC)

Hey,

I've been awol for the past few weeks moving and the like, so i just caught up with this tonight. Wonderfully done-- I really enjoyed your comments and what you picked up on. Thanks for doing this.

Posted by: lilred26x (lilred26x)
Posted at: 13th July 2007 02:52 (UTC)

I can only imagine how much time this had to have taken you. I really want to thank you for taking the time though as it really helps. I particularly enjoy your extra comments and explanations. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 14th July 2007 20:42 (UTC)

WOOHOO! I love reading these <333 Buffy and as I said thank you so much. Due to the comics not being sold where I live this is the only way I can read what happens in them... So thank you

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 5th January 2008 18:58 (UTC)
[buffy] buffy knows best

This was most illuminating! I'm really liking season 8 so far, and I think that it managed quite well with the format change - also, your notes were most interesting and helpful.

Thank you! :)

Posted by: Katherine Joy Summers (stars_inthe_sky)
Posted at: 11th August 2008 23:58 (UTC)
Copenhagen

As someone who doesn't really read comics, thank you SO much for posting these! I like this format for continuing to follow the story a lot, and your annotations are both interesting and helpful. And kind of funny, in places. Any chance you'll be doing scripts for later Season 8 comics or for the Angel ones?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th August 2008 01:14 (UTC)

Thanks! I was trying to make the annotations fun to read as well as useful. :-)

While I'm not saying I would never continue this, it's not really high on my list, I'm afraid. But having said that, I don't know if you've seen the transcripts that KingofCretins did over at Buffyforums?

http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/showthread.php?t=164

These are just transcripts, they don't have the annotations I did, but they give the story.

Posted by: Katherine Joy Summers (stars_inthe_sky)
Posted at: 12th August 2008 01:51 (UTC)
Awakening

Oh, thank you! I hadn't seen that. I'm a pretty recent newcomer to the whole Buffyverse, and it's a little overwhelming to find a community or forum or two to follow, so I just sort of hop around as necessary. But thanks for the rec--I'll check it out!

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