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(meta) Season 8 timeline

16th September 2007 (20:12)

Out of idle curiosity, I've been spending some time trying to work out exactly when Buffy season 8 takes place.

Firstly, it's pretty clear it's autumn in the northern hemisphere:

1) In issue 1, Buffy tells Dawn "you have to be at Berkeley." It's a reasonable assumption that Dawn is a student at the University of California, especially given that she's talking about "guys on campus" in issue 7. The Fall Semester at Berkeley starts in late August.

2) In issue 6, Giles says the apocalypse will happen "before the end of fall" unless Lady Genevieve is stopped. This indicates two things: it's currently early autumn, and Giles has been spending too much time with Americans.

3) In issue 7, Dawn is picking apples. This definitely confirms that it's autumn, unless they're magic apples that ripen out of season.

Let's assume for the sake of argument, then, that Season 8 starts in late September, just like the seasons of the TV show did. The question is, September of which year?


The best way to work this out is by looking at Dawn's age. (Her nominal human age, not her actual number of years of existence). In 'Real Me' broadcast in October 2000, she says she's 14. In 'Once More With Feeling' broadcast in November 2001 she says she's 15. Of course there's no guarantee each episode was meant to take place exactly on its broadcast date; but we can take it as a general guideline. Dawn, then, would be 16 at the start of season 7 in September 2002: she would be 18 in September 2004.

In issue 7, Dawn refers to meeting Kenny "on campus", and says he's the only guy there to not see her as "a walking pair of boobs". That implies that she's already a student, and gives us several alternatives:

1) Dawn spent 2003-04 at high school somewhere or other (maybe California, or Scotland, or maybe even Rome). She started university in August 2004, aged 18. She met Kenny, slept with him, turned into a giant, and was somehow smuggled back to Scotland, all within a matter of three or four weeks. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

2) Dawn won early entry to university in August 2003, aged only 17. (Is this even possible?) She had a whole year to get to know Kenny; my guess is that she came to spend the 2004 long summer vacation with Buffy in Scotland, discovered she was pregnant a giant, and so was unable to go back to California for the start of her second year. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

3) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school in Scotland. (I understand Scotland has at least one excellent high school that specialises in a mystical education...) She met Kenny there, not at university; her references to 'guys on campus' are talking about her high school. She should have started her first yeat at Berkeley in August 2004, but couldn't due to her delicate condition. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

4) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school and 2004-05 at university in Berkeley. She met Kenny at university, came to Scotland to stay with Buffy during the 2005 summer vacation, and should be starting her second year now. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2005, a year later than the other three options.

Option 4 seems the most likely to me, but it means that it's been not just a year and a half, but a full two years and two months since the end of Season 7. That's a lot of time - plenty of time, in fact, to seek out new Slayers, go shopping and partying in Rome and/or Rio, mourn the dead, track down the location of the Watchers' Council secret Scottish headquarters (hopefully not called the Torchwood Estate), arrange funding, do all that and then still have a 'slow year' afterwards...

Thoughts?

Comments

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:34 (UTC)

Didn't Joss say somewhere in an interview 18 months? I seem to recall that because it changed an early statement that it had been a shorter period around a year.

Is Dawn's age a non-variable age? We know from previous experience that JW is not good of keeping track of this thing with Buffy's changing age and Faith's being examples.

But I agree option 4 sounds more likely if only for the disruption caused to studies caused by Chosen. I would have expected Dawn to need to take some classes to catch up.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:44 (UTC)

Yes, he's said 18 months. But I don't necassarily put a lot of weight in that - like you say, Joss isn't brilliant at keeping track of dates and numbers.

18 months after 'Chosen' would be November 2004... sort of in the ballpark, but perhaps a little late to be harvesting apples in Scotland. :-)

Posted by: Margareth (spankulert)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:46 (UTC)
slayer dreaming

Could be Dawn had to leave campus because of said giant affliction? *shrug*

Seems from all your alternatives that you've been geeking over this way more than I have, so I'll trust your judgement ;)

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:20 (UTC)

That still leaves the problem of how to get a giant from California to Scotland, unless the growth was a delayed effect. It may be that she did spend a year at UC Berkeley and met Kenny there, came to Scotland for the summer and then started growing.

Alternatively, maybe Berkeley is a misprint for "St Andrews" or "Aberdeen". Then she could have walked.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:39 (UTC)

Is there a Berkeley College at St Andrews? :-) Or maybe she's big enough to swin the Atlantic...

If the giantness is a pregnancy metaphor, it makes sense for the effects to take a month or two to become noticeable. Or perhaps the spell was designed to take effect if Dawn ever left Kenny, but thricewise magic doesn't take account of things like university holidays?

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 00:16 (UTC)

With her higher volume to surface area ratio, the cold water in the North Atlantic might feel nice.

That's also why she can comfortably bathe in a Scottish pond without any goose bumps or shivering.

Posted by: Margareth (spankulert)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:09 (UTC)
Scooby can do

I'm guessing Willow would come in handy there ;)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 23:33 (UTC)

Except that neither Dawn nor Buffy seemed to know where Willow was at the start of the season - she hadn't been seen for months...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:52 (UTC)

Do we know for sure that "Chosen" takes place in May/June 2003? I've always gotten the impression that the entire last third of the season - cliffhanger upon cliffhanger - plays out over just a week or two. If Sunnydale turns into an innie in late March/early April, that's pretty much 18 months until late September 2004. (This would also fit with Angel s5, which starts 19 days after "Chosen"; if that was mid-June, presumably the kid Angel saves in "Conviction" wouldn't be in school...)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:44 (UTC)

That's a pretty good argument, actually. Although it would still mean that Dawn either (a) went to university a year younger than normal (b) met Kenny at high school (c) managed to lose her virginity and become a giant within a couple of weeks of starting college, and then return from Berkeley without anyone noticing the 50-foot tall woman walking past them...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:02 (UTC)

I don't see any problem with c. She wouldn't be the first girl who, out from under her parents' big sister's wing for the first time, ends up in a guy's bed pretty quickly (she'd even be continuing a family tradition). As for making it back across the Atlantic... well, we've already seen that there are mystics in that castle who can teleport people halfway across the world. Failing that, if they have black unmarked helicopters, I'm sure they can rustle up a C130.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:06 (UTC)

Somebody needs to write the missing scene where Dawn places an international call to Buffy to explain why she needs to come home right now...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:26 (UTC)

Or she calls Willow (who, in the comics, is like a mother to Dawn) and Willow remote-magicks her one-way to Scotland, where she simply knocks on Buffy's bedroom window and asks to be let in...

Either way, Giant!Dawn is a silly (and so far pretty pointless) subplot, so any explanation of it is bound to stretch credibility a bit. But the timeline of it is the least of my problems with s8.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 23:31 (UTC)

How can she call Willow when Willow hasn't been seen for months, and one of the big plot points of the first issues was that Dawn wasn't willing to talk about what happened to anyone but Willow?

And don't forget Willow was like a mother to Dawn in season 6 as well. ;-)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 00:22 (UTC)

As far as i can see, all that is said is that Buffy doesn't currently know how to get a hold of Willow, and that Buffy doesn't know where Willow's been; nobody's saing that Dawn hasn't, at least at some point, known. But yeah, it seems like Willow had no idea that Dawn was a giant... of course, it's possible that Dawn simply asked for a quick teleport and didn't mention the size thing. (Besides, I'm not sure anything regarding Giant Dawn (except stomping Amy) qualifies as a "big plot point" in my book. I'm seeing the metaphor, but I'm not seeing the *reason* for it; she doesn't really contribute much either to the plot or to the character development except some whining and Buffy alienation...)

And don't forget Willow was like a mother to Dawn in season 6 as well.

Yeah, but that was quite some time ago, yada yada yada, car crash, dead Tara, trying to kill Dawn in cold blood, not that close in s7, bla-de-bla. Sorry to bring up old discussions.

Let's say Joss just forgot that too. ;-)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 09:09 (UTC)


Let's say Joss just forgot that too

Snort.:-)

I think that maybe Dawn's thing will be part of Goddards arc, but yes serves no purpose other than the be cool thing and it's not even that.

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 10:16 (UTC)

Reading this post, couldn't resist doing one myself...here:

http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/showthread.php?p=73235#post73235

Oh and, Torchwood estate? Heee!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:30 (UTC)

*Applauds*
I especailly liked the line about hiring an aircraft carrier. :-)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 22:04 (UTC)

Ta! Now I think about it, perhaps she'd need two, to use as waterskis?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 22:24 (UTC)

She's not that big. Two destroyers, and the aircraft carrier can pull her behind it...

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:33 (UTC)
S8 OT3 by st_salieri

Lots of intersting stuff, that I don't have time to discuss.

But I've been pondering the timeline myself, if from a totally different angle - see I've been thinking of Buffy's fantasy. *points to icon*

Now that is the sort of scenario you only dream up if you know that the guys in question are alive - unavailable perhaps, even for all eternity - but alive. Not that you can't dream like that about people you know to have died in apocalypses, but... it's a little unlikely.

Of course Joss only put it in because it was fun and silly and yanked the 'shippers chains, rather than because he wanted to say something about Buffy's mindset (except that she was missing sex, which is so blunt as to be laughable).

Anyway, S8 - based on this impossibly flimsy argument - is either pre-NFA or, as you point out, a LOT later. (In which case - *why* is Dawn behaving like a moody 15 year old?)

(All of this ties in with why everyone just feels 'off' to me. But - I shouldn't be here. And you didn't see me!)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:47 (UTC)

Who said that??

(But I generally agree with what you said, except that I wouldn't be so convinced that moody 18-year olds can't also act like Dawn is doing).

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:34 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Who said that??
You mean, that he was only baiting the 'shippers? Um... it seemed pretty obvious. Everyone has an agenda for whom Buffy should end up with (and he knows perfectly well how insane the Spuffies and Bangels can get), so he gives them a happy fantasy (essentially echoing Andrew from TGiQ: "Buffy loves you both"), resolving nothing and having LOTS of fun in the process.

As for Buffy's midset, then when Ethan shows her the dream, she's very embarrassed (something about a slow year?), but not guilty (as she'd be if they were both dead). Ergo, it's either pre-NFA (and she knows Spike is alive), or post-NFA and she knows they survived.

Or... well who cares. As I said, they just feel 'off'. Not out of character necessarily, just... not where they ought to be, given what I know they've been through. Like a nice AU. Also, and this is my main gripe (and the reason for the 'offness' I think), generally it feels as though they're being made to fit the story, rather than the other way around.

And Dawn can perfectly well be moody, it's just getting a little old now... do something *different* with her. Like... oooh what Lynch did with Beck. From Emo!Teen to Rebellious!Teen, and perfectly in character. Dawn has spent far too long being whiny.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:33 (UTC)
BAS-OT3

Um... "who said that??" was in response to your line about not being here and I did'nt see you, not a response to your actual comment...

I did remember something about Buffy's fantasy, though. Remember it's her dreamspace, which contains every dream she's ever had and ever will have. There's no guarantee that the Spike/Angel fantasy is a recent one (or even one she's even had yet)...

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 17th September 2007 06:35 (UTC)

Speaking of Yanking shipper's chains, wasn't the first page of the issue 7 preview pretty much Faith's declaration of undying Buffy love? I think we can revise that 2 on the Kinsey scale upwards. So far that's Spuffy, Bangel, Bufder and Fuffy all referenced. Wiffy must be next.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:35 (UTC)
Buffy Anne Summers by thesuthernangel

Wiffy must be next.
I thought that was addressed with the whole 'someone in this room is in love with Buffy!' How did she know?

(And I'm all for Buffy/Faith. Bring it!)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:58 (UTC)

I think the only ship that's been more-or-less conclusively denied so far has been Willow/Dawn (what with the "like a mom to me" comment). Otherwise, they seem perfectly willing to hint at anything (Buffy/Ethan!) and resolve nothing. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just saying.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 12:45 (UTC)
S8 OT3 by st_salieri

Oh I doubt there'll be any actual relationships (except Xander/Rene), just lots of subtext. Which is fine by me, since I honestly couldn't care less. :)

(I was just thinking that would S8 be any different if Anya, Tara and Spike hadn't appeared on the show?)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 15:20 (UTC)
Warren is a bitch. And also dead.

I doubt they'll try to pair Buffy up with anyone, at least in this season. We know that Spike and Angel aren't available, and I don't think they'll be able to create a new character who's interesting enough to be promoted to Buffy Boyfriend Material (though in a sense, I hope I'm wrong; if they can't do the same things in the comics that they'd be able to do on the TV show, they shouldn't be doing the comics.) As for Xander, Faith, Willow and Dawn, though... I think there's more of a possibility. Even if it would be nice to see a long-running Buffy fanfic that was more or less gen...

(I was just thinking that would S8 be any different if Anya, Tara and Spike hadn't appeared on the show?)

Well, 8.10 is supposedly the Willow issue, I guess we'll find out some stuff then. But right now, they do seem to be largely forgotten by everyone except Buffy's subconscious, yeah. (Except for Scott Allie's declaration on the letters page that Tara won't be back because her death scene was "pretty final". *cough*)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:39 (UTC)
buffy-S8

I was just thinking that would S8 be any different if Anya, Tara and Spike hadn't appeared on the show?

You know, I strongly suspect that a lot of the reason Joss started season 8 at least a year (possibly two...) after the end of 'Chosen', was so that he could start with a clean slate and tell a story about what happens when you have hundreds of Slayers - and not have to use up one arc where Xander processes his grief for Anya, gets over it and moves on; and another ditto for Buffy and Spike.

Much as that may disappoint the people who mainly watched the show for exactly that sort of big emotional drama...

(As for Tara - if she hadn't appeared on the show, Warren would still have skin...)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 13:46 (UTC)

I'm not sure if it affects the timeline but one other factlet about the mysterious Kenny is that Buffy says both she and Leah pegged him for a thricewise in issue 1. Implying that they met him in person (as opposed to Giles who only met him on the phone). So either Buffy visited Dawn's 'campus' with Leah in tow for some reason or Dawn invited Kenny to visit Schloss Slayer at some point. In either case it seems likely Dawn and Kenny were established enough as 'friends' for her to introduce him to relative strangers like Leah and for him either to phone Giles or answer Dawn or Buffy's phone at some point when Giles was calling them. Also it's only really Buffy and Willow's assumption the the embiggenment was sex-related, maybe Xander was more on the right track after all.

Posted by: jess (soapygirl)
Posted at: 18th September 2007 15:36 (UTC)

I don't think Dawn did it on purpose but I do think she knowlingly engaged in some risky behavior (ie Giles and Buffy warned her away from Kenny) because some part of her likes to be Dawn in Peril.

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