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(Review) BtVS 8.08 'No Future For You' Part 3

8th November 2007 (15:51)

I've been thinking about how BKV's arc of season 8 compares to the ones written by Joss. The individual issues of the Faith arc seem both faster moving, but also shorter and with less going on. As far as I can work out, the difference is that Joss's issues contain an awful lot of parallel plotlines. We skip from Buffy's dream to Willow fighting Amy to Renee talking to her friend to General Voll discussing strategy to Andrew playing strip poker, all in rapid succession. That makes the story quite difficult to follow, but also gives us a lot of information crammed into a short space of time. The perspective of Brian's story is more straightforward: we follow Faith almost exclusively, with only a few short cut-aways to Giles or to Castle Slayer. Reading it is less hard work, but it also means it's over too quickly. :-) 'No Future For You' part 3 definitely feels like act three of a single TV episode; we have plot revelations, rising action, a showdown between the main characters - and end on a cliffhanger with the action unresolved. Having to wait a month to see what happens next isn't going to be easy...

Also, I note that the preview cover shown online for episode 8.08 said "Part II" on the bottom. Fortunately, the printed cover says 'Part III' as it should, so they obviously caught the mistake in time... (speaking as someone whose job sometimes involves proofreading things for print, I feel for the Dark Horse people here...)

Now for the detailed review.

I note that the beginning blurb now describes Buffy's organisation as "European-based". Interesting.

Faith's reaction to learning that Gigi's evil plan is to kill Buffy seems spot on - of course, for Faith, it really *is* always about Buffy... It's also significant that she immediately jumps to the conclusion that Giles was lying to her when he said this mission was about saving the entire world. Faith has a history of being lied to by authority figures, after all, so it's perhaps natural for her to think this. This development also confirms my opinion - despite the doubts some other reviewers raised - that Faith took this mission originally because she accepted its premise. Kill the debutante, save the world. The assassination of Gigi would avert the Apocalypse and therefore was absolutely the right thing for her to do, despite whatever personal qualms she might have about killing someone again.

Now, though, she's put in a position where she thinks Giles just wanted Gigi dead to suit his own personal motives. As we'll see later, she doesn't actually want Gigi to kill Buffy (wanting to kill her herself is a slightly more complex issue) but she no longer seems to think that Gigi has to die to save the world. Whether she's actually right to think so is another matter, of course...

Sidenote: the map on the wall is interesting. The photos of women don't seem to be all of Buffy, so I assume they're either sightings of other Slayers, or the birthplace of Slayers. Which leads to some interesting speculation: only one from London (which has about 13% of the UK population) but one from Cornwall, one from North Wales, one from the Outer Hebrides (I wonder if that's where Castle Slayer is?), one from southern Ireland, and apparently one who was born on Rockall... Or maybe [London-]Derry. Also, we have no fewer than two Norwegian Slayers and one from Sweden. According to the figures, there are 2,000 Slayers out of a world population of 6 billion - so one per 3 million people. On that basis, you'd expect 20 British Slayers, one Irish, one Norwegian and three Swedish. And 350 or so Chinese...

Gigi thinks Buffy's hair is 'increasingly awful'. Personally I think she hit her low spot in late season 4, and has got much better since then...

Now, some people have commented that the bubblebath scene is kinda gay. I'm not convinced... but the scene where Gigi leans in, hands around Faith's neck and shoulders, and offers to rule with her, side by side? That's more lesbian than the Wimbledon Ladies' Doubles. It's practically a proposal of marriagecivil partnership. (Compare also the parallel scene later in the comic where Faith puts her own hands around Buffy's neck, in a slightly less intimate fashion). Although I am open to the possibility that the instant bond between Faith and Gigi is purely sisterly (perhaps literally so...) rather than sexual.

Then, of course, we have a classic BtVS scene break, where Faith says "dear old Dad" could give a toss if she lived and died - and we cut to Giles, who clearly cares very much about whether she lives or dies. His concern for her here does indicate that he didn't deliberately set her up on a suicide mission; he's genuinely worried about her. Also, he apparently told Trafalgar the Dwarf that this mission was about averting the Apocalypse; so either he's being really consistent in his lying, or he was telling Faith the truth after all and she's jumped to a false conclusion. As she tends to do. Also, Giles' description of Faith as "born for this mission" might turn out to have a rather more literal meaning than you'd think, depending on who exactly Faith's mysterious never-mentioned father really was...

And now the notorious bathroom scene, which caused lots of comments when it was released in the preview. My thoughts on the controversy are:

1) "It's out of character for two women who've just met to jump in a bath together". 

OK. Faith getting naked with someone she's just met? 'Out of character'?? It's what she does. She was built to do that. She's the 'do that' girl. Remember also this scene from 'Who Are You?':

RILEY: Uh, the door's open.
FAITH: So?
RILEY: So, my fantasies don't tend to include a bunch of Marines looking in on me.
FAITH: They might learn something.

Faith either has no nudity taboo (or sense of shame), or she's a massive exhibitionist. Or both.

As for Gigi, we don't know her that well... but we do learn here that she's never had a friend of her own age before. It's possible that she has an over-romanticised idea of the sort of things bestest girl friends are supposed to do together, based on novels, magazine articles and daytime soap operas rather than real life. Or possibly she just fancies the pants off Faith, as suggested here by that whole "I knew it from the very moment I looked into your eyes" thing.

2) "It's based on a distorted American stereotype of the British aristocracy".

Huh? I mean seriously, huh? I've only met a couple of British aristocrats in my time, but the only thing they had in common was that they were all individuals. To my mind, Gigi is no more supposed to be somehow representative of the British than General Voll is supposed to be representative of Americans. Having said that, it is true that nudity taboos vary from culture to culture... in the US, a brief flash of nipple during a sporting event causes a national crisis, while in Finland you can walk past posters for breast cancer awareness featuring topless women on every bus shelter. In my experience Britain is somewhere between America and Scandinavia in this spectrum... not to mention that as a rule, the more puritanical attitudes to the human body tend to get less common the higher* on the social scale you go. So this scene seems unusual, but not exceptional, to me.

*FCVO 'higher'

3) "It's shameless pandering to fanboys"

I suspect most (straight) fanboys who want to be pandered to shamelessly would rather download a picture of actual naked women in a bath rather than look at drawings of soap bubbles. But maybe I'm strange. Also, there's a not insignificant number of fangirls who are equally interested in Naked Faith, y'know... And why wasn't Sweaty Naked Xander in the previous issue so controversial, hmm?

Also, the bath scene does serve a genuine plot point - it's a place the two women can talk together without Roden eavesdropping - as well as showing just how comfortable/intimate with each other they've become so quickly.


Changing the subject, Faith's interest in Amy Winehouse from last issue is now reinforced by an apparent liking for The Clash, The Stone Roses and Arctic Monkeys. Assuming this takes place in 2004 or 2005, Faith would have to have discovered Arctic Monkeys online, since although they formed in 2003 their first record wasn't officially released until October 2005... which is an interesting picture of how she spends her leisure time when she's not sitting on top of bridges in Cleveland. Surfing the Web isn't really the sort of thing I associate with Faith - although she did spend a lot of time watching TV back in season 3, and if she can afford/steal/be given a computer, I can sort of imagine her making use of it that way. Or maybe she hangs out a lot in internet cafés.

Of course, this revelation about her musical tastes inspired a vid. Faith and "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" are a match made in heaven...

Heaven, incidentally, being a place Faith thinks 'only chumps' believe in. That's quite ironic given that Buffy has actually been there - although it's likely Faith never found out about that.

Gigi has been having Slayer dreams since puberty, apparently. Going by the film rather than the TV show, it seems that the same can be said for Buffy - while Harth Fray had them since early infancy. It seems there's no hard and fast rule as to when you get them, if you do. Gigi seems to have them worse than most, though - perhaps the Slayer Spirit/First Slayer/Powers-That-Be/whatever sends them is trying to warn her against something? Faith claims that she also suffers from nightmares every single night - but in her case, I've a suspicion they're not all Slayer-related.

As they're getting dressed, notice the paired mirrors casting infinite reflections of them. Considering all the parallels this story is drawing between Faith and Buffy and Faith and Gigi, it's an appropriate image. Also a sinister one, as Granny Weatherwax would tell you. Faith seems to have accepted now that Mayor Wilkins used and exploited her by telling her what she wanted to hear; and she's also trying her hardest to persuade Gigi not to go through with her plan. Interesting that Gigi completely misinterprets her reason (and that she calls her 'love').

Back to Castle Slayer for our regularly scheduled update on what Buffy's doing. As anyone who's read my fanfic will know, I'm a big fan of Buffy-Willow conversations with their mixture of friendly teasing and addressing some serious issues, and this is no exception. "Our castle is kind of landlocked, Buff" is very funny and in character, as is Buffy's wordplay elaboration on the idea of either frogmen or man-frogs in the moat. Typical Willow being a fan of Linux rather than Windows (but not OSX?), and we even get more news on where the money to pay for all the stuff they have comes from! Proving that this question (which perplexed many fans) is something the storyline will address, rather than being something the writers didn't even bother to think about. Who is Buffy's mysterious sponsor? And why won't she even tell Willow, of all people? Mysterious...

The question of killing humans is addressed in an interesting fashion - remember my mention of mirrors before? Here it's Willow who says that killing humans is just wrong - which was always Buffy's position before. And it's Buffy who says that they're different from the bad guys simply because they're not bad, rather than because of their actions - which was always Willow's argument. (And why she assumed that because she was one of the good guys, anything she did - stealing, hacking, wiping her girlfriend's memory - was therefore not evil). It's fascinating and slightly worrying to see Buffy hesitating on the start of the ethical path that eventually led Willow to almost blow up the world... although she has genuine moral doubts about the situation. (It's also refreshing to see a hero admitting she doesn't know the best thing to do in a situation like this) On the other hand, it could be argued that Buffy's previous position on not killing humans was heroic but misguided - Angel, for one, has absolutely no problem about killing humans if he has to, and nor does Giles. Interesting to see where this goes...

Willow's "Did I do that?" when Buffy vanishes is adorable.

Roden calls himself "a loyal servant of the magic hour". Assuming that's not just poetic gibberish, I assume the 'magic hour' is twilight (or Twilight) - and as we'll soon see, he is actually casting the spell at the hour of twilight. (So Buffy either had a late lunch or an early tea). So despite General Voll's personal suspicion of magic, it does seem that Twilight is itself a magical organisation. Also, Roden calls Buffy "the first of the last" - compare the invocation of the First Slayer in 'Primeval' where Buffy was called "daughter of Sineya, First of the Ones". If Buffy is the "first of the last", does that mean that the Slayers currently active will be the last ones ever to be called? (Buffy, of course, is the 'first' of them because she's been active longer than any other). That does suggest a tie-in to 'Fray', which for those who haven't read it is set several hundred years in the future, and the heroine is the first Slayer to be called in centuries.

In 'Two To Go', Willow explained that teleporting feels rough on anybody who isn't her. Poor Buffy seems particularly susceptible to the after-effects - unless it's just that the chicken caesar wrap she ate was a dodgy one... I also rather liked the scene where she confronts Roden, thus proving that either he's really tall or Buffy is really, really short.

She may be short, but she's also a superhero. This fight scene is very impressive: she's taken completely by surprise, feeling nauseous, and unarmed; facing a Slayer who's armed, presumably as strong and fast as her, and has trained specifically for this fight. And she demolishes Gigi in seconds and makes it look easy. Of course, being angry helps... Is Buffy more furious about Gigi killing "innocent girls" or "other Slayers", though? The answer could be significant. Also, for all her doubts about killing other humans moments earlier, she certainly looks ready enough to kill Gigi here - although we don't know if she'd have gone through with it if Faith hadn't intervened.

Trivia note: Gigi is left handed. She's holding the sword in her left hand, and when she takes a two-handed grip, her left hand is above the right. Buffy's two-handed grip is the other way around. Also, I checked the previous issue, and now noticed that when Faith and Gigi are on the balcony smoking, Faith holds her cigarette in her right hand, Gigi holds hers in her left.

Another note - notice that as Buffy brandishes the sword over Gigi, Roden is in the background casting a spell. We don't know what it would have done... but it's not impossible that when Faith pushes Buffy through the window, she's not only saving Gigi's life, but also Buffy's. Probably not by design, though.

Now that we're privileged to hear Faith's internal monologue, we also learn as she plummets to the ground that she knows there's a pool there, and is hoping desperately that it'll be deep water. Which sheds new light on the similar diving-through-a-window scene in 'Salvage', where I now suspect she may have had similar thoughts. Also, this isn't the first time Buffy and Faith have crashed through a window together during a big fight.

Interesting that the cover of this issue is quite literal this time. The idea that Buffy and Faith would end up fighting because Buffy assumes Faith's turned evil again isn't exactly a surprise, although the specific way it's done is still interesting. Buffy, of course, was wary and suspicious of Faith all through their time together in season 7; she was grudgingly willing to accept Faith's assurances that she fought for the good guys again now, and they had a brief moment of connection and truthfulness; but I'm not one of those who think that as a result of that all was forgiven and they were suddenly best friends again. Buffy is leaping to conclusions here, of course, and she'd probably admit herself later that she was wrong to do so - indeed, by the end of the scene she's having a fairly civil (if brief) conversation with Faith. Still, when someone just tried to kill you and Faith is apparently on her side, it's an easy conclusion to jump to (Or take a tiny step to). It's also apparent that Giles hasn't told Buffy anything about this mission. Hmm.

If Faith's undercover, she probably shouldn't shout that fact out at the top of her voice during the fight. Just sayin'.

Also, is Faith really on Buffy's team? Or does she play for the other team? (Sorry...)

It's interesting that the thing that gets Faith really mad is the idea that Giles never trusted her. Which I don't think is true, of course - these are Buffy's own issues surfacing here. The implication is that Buffy is herself feeling just a little betrayed by the idea Giles sent Faith on a mission without telling her about it. Maybe she's jealous on a personal level - and maybe she's angry that Giles is acting like a loose cannon when she's supposed to be the one in charge. Her final words of this issue - "Get me Giles" - are ominous.

Remember what I said about what a skilled fighter Buffy is, and how she beat Gigi so easily? This fight, Faith wins. I think it's actually the first time Faith has won a fight against Buffy... and she would have killed her if she'd not had second thoughts. Her internal monologue is incredible to read... "never forget how deep she cut you" indeed - and equally fascinating is her reaction to it. "Shut up. Please shut up. I wish you'd just go away." Pretty sure she's talking to herself here, or to the voice in her head. The same voice that in Part 1 called her "a worthless whore". I'm not sure if we're meant to believe that Faith is actually schizophrenic and the voice she hears is literal - the possibility that she's genuinely mentally ill has been referred to often enough through the series - or if it's just a symbolic representation of her self-loathing, anger and guilt. Either way, major kudos to her for refusing to listen and letting Buffy up from under the water.

And then a black-eyed and dangerous looking Willow brings Buffy back, as the assembled Slayers look worried and distressed. It's amusing to hear that Buffy's astral signature is apparently almost indistinguishable from that of a Norwegian truck driver or a pair of marmosets. :-) (And I wonder if the marmosets will appear in later episodes? Or how long it will be before somebody writes fic about their adventures?)

And then the final scene. Poor abandoned lost Faith... and poor heartbroken betrayed Gigi about to kill her. I assume that's supposed to be a mixture of tears and smeared mascara around her eyes, unless she's actually weeping blood or something due to a magic spell Roden cast on her (compare 'Destiny' in Angel S5). Either way, I really want to know what happens next and don't want to wait another month to find out...

Comments

Posted by: counteragent (counteragent)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 18:13 (UTC)
Buffy counteragent

Great review!

This is a fun story, but over far too quickly, indeed.

The only thing I take issue with is Gigi's pseudo-aristocratic speech patterns. I find them inconsistant and jarring, and they diminish her effectiveness as a character to me. Oh well. I assume they are the kind of lines that a great bad-girl actress could deliver without foolishness.

Far more interesting than my little quibble: What the hell is Giles up to? Can't wait for some Giles-Buffy interaction! Their relationship has always been one of my favorite parts of the 'verse.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 20:11 (UTC)

Gigi's speech actually seems to me like an odd mixture of aristocratic and Estuary English. I mean "As soon as this Buffy slag is snuffed out" and "One way to find out, yeah?" sound like she's been watching too many episodes of 'The Bill'. On the other hand, when she's talking to Buffy her diction and vocabulary are far more refined and erudite.

I think it's deliberate - she's switching accents depending on whom she's talking to (and whether or not she's in public).

Also, I think Buffy is about to rip Giles a new one for sending Faith on Slayer-killing missions without having the courtesy to even tell her. I don't think she's quite forgiven him for 'Lies My Parents Told Me', and this is more of the same...

Thanks for the comments!

Posted by: counteragent (counteragent)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:07 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:24 (UTC)

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 18:16 (UTC)
spike trash

As always, I'm loving these reviews of yours. I have to admit I rifled through it(or, more like clicked my way through it) pretty fast. That's how it goes with me, one big swoop. Will have a second look through before I hit the sack though.

I didn't notice the spell-casting going on in the background when Faith tackled Buffy, so that was a very interesting point. I'm just feeling more and more sorry for Faith here. Man they love banging up her character.

As per usual I have no useful insights to offer myself :p

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 20:14 (UTC)

I'm feeling sorry for Faith, and by the last scene I was even feeling sorry for Gigi too... Faith was her only friend in the whole world (sob!) and she just turned on her...

Hope you enjoy your bedtime reading. :-)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 18:51 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Very nice review. Lots of points, but I'll only comment on 2 because I'm in a hurry...

Gigi thinks Buffy's hair is 'increasingly awful'. Personally I think she hit her low spot in late season 4, and has got much better since then...
S3 hair was rather terrible too (but then it was also combined with the pastel colour scheme of Doom), but overall her hair on the show was rather nice, and v. pretty indeed from S5 onwards. In the comics however... well my 6-year-old wears her hair like Buffy does. Just sayin'.

The idea that Buffy and Faith would end up fighting because Buffy assumes Faith's turned evil again isn't exactly a surprise
This was my major, overriding problem. It appears that Buffy very conveniently forgot 'Empty Places', when not only Giles, but Every. Single. Person in Buffy’s household - Scoobies, potentials, Dawn - chose to trust Faith over Buffy. Even Buffy trusted Faith:

BUFFY: Don't...be afraid to lead them. (Buffy's face is wet with tears) Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. It's only gonna get harder. Protect them, (looks at Faith) but lead them.

And that wasn’t just one undercover mission, that was the fate of the *world*, THE apocalypse. And they all trusted Faith.

I know there are all sorts of extenuating circumstances, but I like my Buffy to be honest, to remember her past and to have a brain at least as good as Puppet!Spike's... (See? This is why I didn't post my own review. I'm not saying that Buffy and Faith don't have issues, but I think they're being dealt with in a sloppy, and simplistic, fashion. And I don't like Faith's schizophrenia.)

It's such a shame though, because the story is great otherwise and has lots of wonderful moments.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 20:29 (UTC)
faith

the pastel colour scheme of Doom
Wasn't that mostly to contrast her with Faith, though? As well as making her look about 40.

It appears that Buffy very conveniently forgot 'Empty Places', when not only Giles, but Every. Single. Person in Buffy’s household - Scoobies, potentials, Dawn - chose to trust Faith over Buffy.

Hmm. Not convinced, sorry. They just didn't trust Buffy. And then somebody said "Hey, isn't Faith a Slayer too?" and they all turned to her because there wasn't anybody else. Sure, that was an important character-defining moment for her, to suddenly be in charge and to be responsible, and I liked the way they showed it. But I think Giles and Buffy were just making the best of a bad job; Faith was all they had so they had to support her leadership, not that they thought she was wonderful at the job.

After all, it was after Buffy's 'don't be afraid to lead them' speech that she perked up at the news that Spike had hit Faith a bunch of times. And that she said to Spike "I'm tired of defensiveness and weird mixed signals - I've got Faith for that." (which is a great line). Like I said, I think she was willing to accept that Faith was trying to be one of the good guys now, but she still didn't like her any more. Nor do I think it's out of the question that she might believe Faith would slip back into her old ways. She even says "I can't believe I ever thought you changed" - which, of course, implies that she did think that until a few moments earlier.

Faith being actually mentally ill rather than just "having issues" is a big step, and I'm not sure how I feel about it - although it would be breaking one of the last big taboos in modern media. Assuming, of course, that this is where BKV is taking it; I'm not really sure. I also don't know how they'd resolve the storyline if they do; Faith checks herself into a clinic and goes on medication? Willow conveniently knows a spell to cure schizophrenia, that only works if the patient recognises and acknowledges their problem? The problem is that an actual illness, as opposed to a character trait, is not something that you can heroically overcome through strength of will; you just have to be treated for it, or not. So in a way it deprotagonises Faith. Hmm.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:36 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:43 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:47 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 22:03 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 20:00 (UTC)

Great review, as always.

I liked this episode (given the setup and unexplained character changes, yada yada yada). It had good pacing, it had some good character moments and even if the Buffy/Gigi fight scene came about very abruptly, it's a nice change to have the villains simply get down to it rather than dancing around for 11 episodes (see below, though). Also, Faith is suitably conflicted, as she should be. And the fight with Buffy was indeed pretty darn good.

Whether she's actually right to think so is another matter

I'd say she is; it seems to me that Giles' intelligence was either faulty or an outright lie - Roden's the big threat, not Gigi.

purely sisterly (perhaps literally so...)

With all respect to your drabble a while back, oh please dear God and all her wacky nephews no.

Heaven, incidentally, being a place Faith thinks 'only chumps' believe in.

You're saying Faith lacks faith? ;-)

Granny Weatherwax

Yay!

Faith seems to have accepted now that Mayor Wilkins used and exploited her

And/or Giles.

these are Buffy's own issues surfacing here.

Great point. I still think Buffy reacts too harshly - I think keith5by5 would agree with this characterization of Buffy ;-) - as per elisi's comments and "Hold the line", but... Also, what sets Faith off, IMO, isn't that Giles doesn't trust her but that Buffy doesn't.

Also, Faith refers to Giles as "your boy" - same phrase she used about Mr Trick in "Consequences".

I think it's actually the first time Faith has won a fight against Buffy

"Who Are You", hmmm? Agree on the internal monologue, that's great, even if Faith being outright schizophrenic has no basis in (TV) canon. So I'll choose not to interpret them as literal voices. Great build-up of Faith's internal blabbering over the episode.

Either way, I really want to know what happens next

Well, duh. Svein Roar Hansen of Oslo Transportservise comes plummeting out of the sky and lands on top of Gigi.

My main questions after this are:

- Where DO they get their money? Does Buffy not know - you'd think she'd want to, but on the other hand that's exactly the sort of issues she always hated back in s6 - or is it just that she doesn't trust Willow enough to tell her?

- Buffy is echoing s3 Faith and s6 Willow when it comes to killing humans - it's OK as long as it's for the right reasons. She's killed people before in the heat of battle, but there's a difference between that and planning (the word is "premeditated", I guess) to kill any soldiers ordered against them. I'm guessing this comes from the pressure she would be under since Voll's revelation, though I honestly find it hard to tell when a cartoon is supposed to be panicking!quippy or relaxed!quippy.

- As for Willow - is her disagreement based on humility and experience, or newfound moral superiority based on "Hey, I didn't kill Warren after all!" The fact that she's using magic to install a computer system - not all that different from using it to decorate a living room - might suggest that it's the latter, but who knows... and Linux IS a little harder to install. While there's been some overreactions about Willow's magic use in s8, it's worth mentioning.

- Random observation: I googlieve that the spell Willow uses has something to do with other comics - Doctor Strange and Runaways, apparently.

- So considering how easy it is to just teleport people out of Castle Aaargh Slayalot, how long before Twilight get sick of playing games and simply teleport the whole bally lot of them to 10,000 feet above the North Pole?

- And what's the deal with royalty here? "When in the presence of royalty, you belong on your knees (...) I'm no pretender to the throne." Does that make any sense at all? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't every member of the Royal family theoretically a pretender to the throne, or is that just in "King Ralph"? ;-) So if Buffy's not royalty (again that "queen" motif) and Gigi isn't either, and Roden's Irish... please tell me I've got this all bass-ackwards.

- And once again, all letters are 6 months old or so. Hmmm.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:12 (UTC)
faith

the Buffy/Gigi fight scene came about very abruptlyTeleporting your opponent right in front of you does that...

Regarding who's the biggest threat: Roden might be the one pulling the strings, but I suspect that the mystic prophecies and so forth that Giles is relying on all talk about it being the Slayer who's the big danger - because she's the one who will actually pull the trigger on the Apocalypse. So it's natural for him to think Gigi is the one who needs to be taken out of the picture.

For that matter, he may not be wrong. Kill Roden and another member of Twilight would step up to take his place. Kill Gigi, and where will they find another Slayer who's so easy to suborn?

You're saying Faith lacks faith?
Lost faith, broken faith, is unfaithful, takes things on faith... the possibilities are endless. :-) I wonder if her mother was a pious Catholic, or if she just liked the sound of the name?

"Who Are You", hmmm? Agree on the internal monologue, that's great, even if Faith being outright schizophrenic has no basis in (TV) canon.
In 'WAY?' she beat on Buffy for a while, but Buffy was still able to use the Draconic Katra on her and win that fight. If you mean the final scene of 'This Year's Girl' - perhaps, but she cheated. And Faith's body was still the one unconscious at the end of that fight, even if her mind had leaped out of it at the last minute into Buffy's.

I'm not convinced about "no basis". Think of Faith's hyper-realistic hallucination of stabbing Willow in 'Who Are You?'. Or her equally realistic one in 'Sanctuary' - from the shooting script:

A pregnant beat. Suddenly she spins around. A FLASH OF METAL! She's got a scary looking bowie knife. She plunges it into Angel's face, again and again and again. It is violent and shocking… and it never happened.

We CUT BACK to the scene. She's still turned away from him. He still looks at her expectantly. That violent flash was all in Faith's tortured mind.


I do think they were inconsistent about this on the TV show. Season 4/Angel S1 is most explicit about her being actually mentally ill; S3 goes on about her being "dangerously unstable" and "not exactly on the cover of Sanity Fair" but that might just be exaggeration. But in Angel 4/Buffy 7 a lot of that seems to have been forgotten; almost as if the writers had never watched the earlier episodes of the show. ;-)

Does Buffy not know - you'd think she'd want to, but on the other hand that's exactly the sort of issues she always hated back in s6 - or is it just that she doesn't trust Willow enough to tell her?

It's interesting, because I'd always assumed that Willow would have been the one to arrange the finances (either through magic or hacking). And for Buffy to not trust Willow with the information would be a huge deal. It's possible she just didn't want to talk about it in front of the other Slayers; or maybe the person providing the money said specifically "Don't tell Willow about me". Which begs even more questions...

How to deal with human opponents who are trying to kill her is a genuine dilemma for Buffy; I'm glad they're not giving her a pat answer. And as for Willow, I'm pretty confident that her answer is based on your first reason, not your second one. :-) Though I do wonder if they're building up to something with her casual use of magic, or if they've just decided that Season 6 was a bad idea and a magically-capable Willow is too useful as a plot device to restrict her too much... Though installing a defence system that will protect a hundred Slayers from their enemies *is* a lot different than putting up party decorations.

TBC

Posted by: counteragent (counteragent)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:13 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:18 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:58 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 22:15 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:25 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 21:53 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 22:10 (UTC)

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 10th November 2007 08:37 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th November 2007 09:55 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 8th November 2007 22:56 (UTC)

I've been thinking about how BKV's arc of season 8 compares to the ones written by Joss

Some of the difference may be illusory, The Long Way Home was a season opener and The Chain overtly experimental but Joss seems to favour similarly quick cuts between multiple storylines in his X-men series and, when I think about it in his Buffy episodes. I definitely prefer his style for reading the comics as they come out but I bet the No Future will be a blast.

One problem (and if you’re a big Faith fan it’s not exactly a problem) is that it’s so focused on the main character that everyone else comes off a little flat by comparison. But there’s still plenty going on between Buffy and Willow when you look a little more closely and great set up for issue 10.

Gigi, partly because she’s the mirror to Faith has become more complex and nuanced with every issue. You mention the possibility of Faith being psychotic but Gigi between her social/sexual isolation, indoctrination with weirdly anachronistic beliefs about her divine rights by pervy tutors and inbred aristocratic genetic heritage seems to have been pushed right over the edge by her Slayer nightmares (I still find the thing that gave me most chills was the idea that what she and Roden were going to do would disconnect the Slayers from their shared dreamspace – break the chain).

As they're getting dressed, notice the paired mirrors casting infinite reflections of them. Considering all the parallels this story is drawing between Faith and Buffy and Faith and Gigi, it's an appropriate image.

And speaking of Faith and Buffy rather than Faith and Gigi I also liked that they got their own matched thoughts (“Please be the deep end.”) in the panel when they’re falling into the moat in mirror image poses except that Buffy’s leaving a shoe behind (Cinderella moment – maybe not, but fairy stories do seem to be a seasonal theme). Oh and Gigi and Buffy have a mirror panel too in their reactions to Faith’s intervention.

Switching to Buffy, people up thread mentioned Empty Places and from her point of view there’s plenty to remind her of that attempt to depose her, certainly enough to react angrily to Faith’s suggestion that Giles was in on the whole thing. Her final panel suggests she did believe Giles trusted Faith whatever she said to hurt Faith in the heat of the moment. Faith drowning Buffy is an image from Buffy’s dream of her in Consequences, I wonder if Faith’s ever had that dream.

Another note - notice that as Buffy brandishes the sword over Gigi, Roden is in the background casting a spell.

There’s an odd light effect on the sword as he does that, which matches a similar one seem in the first panel that Gigi picks it up.

Buffy, of course, was wary and suspicious of Faith all through their time together in season 7; she was grudgingly willing to accept Faith's assurances that she fought for the good guys again now, and they had a brief moment of connection and truthfulness; but I'm not one of those who think that as a result of that all was forgiven and they were suddenly best friends again.

Me neither. I also don’t think that Angel redeemed her in either S1 or S4 of his show. It was good that he was there for her and that gave her the strangth to turn herself in (but that was her own idea not his). He helped her work through her killer guilt but killing was a sympton as much as a cause and he never followed up on the talk about how taking a life makes you feel all Nietzchean. Faith has a superiority/inferiority complex the match of Buffy’s that she’s never worked through. I hope seeing Gigi spouting the same ideology about Slayer’s being better is going to give her a chance to do that.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 10:46 (UTC)

indoctrination with weirdly anachronistic beliefs about her divine rights by pervy tutors
That's a good way of describing her...

also liked that they got their own matched thoughts (“Please be the deep end.”)
I took that to be just Faith's thoughts, repeated three times. We never get to hear Buffy's internal dialogue anywhere else in this arc - and all the boxes are the same colour, and I'd have expected Buffy's thoughts to be shown differently if they were hers.

I like the thought about the meaning behind the shoe - I noticed it falling off but forgot to mention that in the review. I did check that she's still not wearing it in the scene afterwards where she's back home - they did keep the continuity!

There’s an odd light effect on the sword as he does that,
I took that to just be the light reflecting off the blade. (With a sound that goes *ting*) It could be magic, though - which leads to an interesting thought. Roden enchanted the sword that Gigi was going to use to kill Buffy - and he enchanted the sword Buffy was going to use to kill Gigi. Could it be that his Apocalyptic ritual just needs one Slayer to kill another at a specific moment, and it doesn't actually matter to him if it's Buffy or Gigi who dies?

also don’t think that Angel redeemed her in either S1 or S4 of his show

Well, Angel himself seemed to alternate between believing redemption was a specific prize you could win, and an ongoing, never-ending process you had to carry out yourself, hopefully with support from your friends. By the end of the series he seemed to come down on the side of 'b' - so he would agree with your assessment here. He helped Faith face up to herself and gave her the valuable gift of someone she could trust, talk to and identify with - but redemption is up to her and her alone. It will be interesting to see if she reflects more on the parallels between her and Gigi - self-examination is something Faith tends to have to be forced into...

Posted by: caurielle (caurielle)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 07:01 (UTC)
Faith's/Giles' motives

There are possibilities in my mind that I would like to write down before I forget them, or read more. One: Giles does care about Faith and understands her more than anyone else does, so he sends her on this mission with the promise of escape to entice her. His real goal is to have Faith eliminate an evil adversary before Buffy and her team so as to engender forgiveness and trust from Buffy to Faith.
Two: For all her talk, Faith admires Buffy. She is also jealous of the admiration and love she receives, which leads her to use her inborn strength (remember "Want...take...have" from Bad Girls) to attempt to kill Buffy. Not killing Buffy is the greatest triumph she could have--not using her strength to grant her her basest desire. There is nothing Faith wants more than Buffy's love, trust, admiration, and acceptance. If she kills her, she will never get it.

What do you all think?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 11:00 (UTC)
Re: Faith's/Giles' motives
faith2

Giles does care about Faith and understands her more than anyone else does, so he sends her on this mission with the promise of escape to entice her.

I's an interesting idea. I'm not sure I quite believe it, because it makes Giles rather more wise and benevolent than I think the show depicted him, especially in the later seasons. But that's my perception, not necessarily canon. I think Giles does respect Faith, but more as an experienced Watcher with a flawed but promising Slayer than anything more personal. From 8.06 we know he also identifies with her as someone a lot like himself in his younger days, so there's a connection there.

As to killing Gigi, though - my suspicion is simply that he thinks Buffy would have moral objections to killing another Slayer (even an evil one), so he takes it on himself to arrange her death without telling her. It's Ben over again. The idea that Faith would be boosted in Buffy's eyes might be an interesting side-effect, but I'm afraid I don't think he was ever planning on telling Buffy about this mission, even afterwards. But we'll find out soon enough, I suspect.

For all her talk, Faith admires Buffy.
I think she admires her, resents her, loves her, hates her, worships her, detests her, wants her, wants to be her, respects her, despises her, is insanely jealous of all she has, wouldn't want to be her for all the world, thinks she's the best thing that ever happened to her in her life, thinks she's the cause of everything that's bad in her life.

Faith has Buffy issues. :-)

(In other words - yes, I agree with you)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 19:31 (UTC)
Re: Faith's/Giles' motives

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th November 2007 01:17 (UTC)
Re: Faith's/Giles' motives

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th November 2007 14:24 (UTC)
Re: Faith's/Giles' motives

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 12th November 2007 22:14 (UTC)
Re: Faith's/Giles' motives

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 19:37 (UTC)

Great review. I was lukewarm, at best, about the first arc. But this arc is delivering the sort of stuff I wanted from B8 -- it's making me think about what's going on. The one flaw -- Gigi's silly 'aristocratic' language -- has a plausible explanation (her isolation) and isn't enough to keep me from appreciating the complexity of the mirrors upon mirrors in what's going on. In this issue, I love that it is Faith who can stop her own murderous rage, with both of the other slayers looking to be quite willing to kill. And so tragic that Faith's moment of wisdom comes right before everything is going to fall apart on her big time -- cause right now I have a terrible feeling about how this all plays out in the next issue.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th November 2007 19:58 (UTC)

right now I have a terrible feeling about how this all plays out in the next issue

I keep getting this voice in my head - not unlike Faith's - whispering "Joss kills characters... Joss kills characters..."

But he also brings them back to life, so that's OK. :-) Though I still think that the perfect ending to this arc would be for it to be revealed that Faith is the rightful heir to the Savidge fortune and title, and Gigi ends up disinherited...

Posted by: mrs_underhill (mrs_underhill)
Posted at: 12th November 2007 17:30 (UTC)
puppet_spike

Great review, Stormwreath!

As for Giles and his motivations here. I think he has the info, just like Roden, that the threat to Buffy is linked to the threat to the world as it is. He also knows it's somehow linked to the Twilight thing, which, lest we forget, is this Season's Big Bad. And Big Bads usually do try to end the world. And Giles has been researching Twilight threat on his own - as his dealings with those big demons in #2(?) show.
So it looks like that Giles gets some very disturbing info on the Season's Big Bad and also gets the info that this thing's ascension will be caused by the death of Buffy. Adn he gets the info that Gigi here is messes with Twilight-related magicks and prepares to make her move on Buffy. So he acts. But he obviously doesn't see the full picture as he has no idea about Roden. If he had all the info, he would send Faith after Roden and not Gigi.
So looks like a honest mistake and rash acting on Giles' part, that it really is more to it than just saving or killing Buffy (as both Roden and Gigi aknowledge that too).

Also agree that the bubble-bath scene is much more than pondering to fanboys, even though it has that too - which I see nothing wrong with. But there's a lot of symbolism in this scene - especially as it is contrasted with Faith and Buffy "taking a bath" later.

Also when Faith talked about older men in her life using her to do their dirty work by telling her what she wants to hear - I'm sure she meant not just Mayor Wilkins but also Wood and Giles, as they both did just that in this arc, from her POV.

Re. killing humans and Willow questioning Buffy on it. Interesting how she also questioned Dawn on it in #7. I think Willow is so wary of it here because she's been there, she's a murderer, and now sees it as a terrible thing. She wouldn't ever want to be there again, or have her best friend to go there. Same as with Faith - Faith, after getting back her morals and realizing what she's done, is very traumatized by it and finds herself unable to kill another human being - almost. As for Angel having no problems with killing humans - he only stopped seeing this as a problem after joining W&H, and we know what that place is doing to good people. And also we know now where his path lead him in Angel:ATF.
And if Buffy is threatened by organizations of human world, she might want to ally herself with other human organizations to deal with it, rather then deal with it all by herself. What I mean is: magics and demons are her jurisdiction, she fights them. Now if the human nasty is threatening her she can call on the police, or the United Nations, or her congressman - whatever, as that one would be within human jurisdiction. She doesn't have stand alone against human baddies. But for what we can guess from the #11 cover, Twilight might not be a human-based nasty but yet another demonic entity manipulating humans. OK, we'll see where it leads.

Re. Faith inner voice - I think it's her inner dark impulses manifesting like that. She's unstable, like with that moment when she attacked Giles with a fork. Nobody else is talking to her but her own inner voices.
And I think it was mascara running from Gigi's eyes, as she's crying.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th November 2007 19:55 (UTC)

But for what we can guess from the #11 cover, Twilight might not be a human-based nasty but yet another demonic entity manipulating humans.

The true identity of Twilight seems to be shifting around all the time.

In 'Long Way Home' it seemed like a human, technology-based, military organisation - only different to the Initiative in that it's willing to admit the existence of magic and hire experts or outside contractors (Amy) to use it: but General Voll dislikes the idea. Now in 'No Future' Roden is still human, but he's an old-fashioned sorceror casting spells and summoning demons; no technology in sight. And from the #11 preview, it seems as though there's a demon behind Twilight after all (although I suspect misdirection...) So which is the real Twilight? Or will it turn out to be something even more different that we've not seen yet?

Thanks for the comments!

Posted by: lilred26x (lilred26x)
Posted at: 18th November 2007 02:53 (UTC)

Another great review! You always notice things that I miss like Roden doing magic in the background when Faith tackles Buffy. I definitely enjoy the comics more because of your reviews! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 2nd July 2011 19:43 (UTC)
Rehashing past plots

Meh. I hated this issue. (see below)

Of course, this revelation about her musical tastes inspired a vid. Faith and "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" are a match made in heaven...

Loved it. I also liked the music references in the last few issues.

Gigi has been having Slayer dreams since puberty, apparently. Going by the film rather than the TV show, it seems that the same can be said for Buffy - while Harth Fray had them since early infancy. It seems there's no hard and fast rule as to when you get them, if you do. Gigi seems to have them worse than most, though - perhaps the Slayer Spirit/First Slayer/Powers-That-Be/whatever sends them is trying to warn her against something? Faith claims that she also suffers from nightmares every single night - but in her case, I've a suspicion they're not all Slayer-related.

But they're awfully vague about it. Ignoring the film, Harth Fray is the exception that proved the rule. Why another exception? And given the fact that she "hadn't had a decent evening's sleep since" her "first tampon", that could place it as early as season 2. It makes it even more strange, because it's basically in the Council's own backyard (so to speak).

The question of killing humans is addressed in an interesting fashion - remember my mention of mirrors before? Here it's Willow who says that killing humans is just wrong - which was always Buffy's position before. And it's Buffy who says that they're different from the bad guys simply because they're not bad, rather than because of their actions - which was always Willow's argument.

Yeah, but beyond that, it's naive. What are you gonna do when the soldiers attack? Put your hands in the air and hope they don't shoot you? If they're not prepared to kill their human attackers if it happens, there are going to be lots of casualties. This is what happens when you change the world. The rules change. Because you also have to think about the people that depend on you. And they're Americans. What happened to self defence?

Trivia note: Gigi is left handed. She's holding the sword in her left hand, and when she takes a two-handed grip, her left hand is above the right. Buffy's two-handed grip is the other way around. Also, I checked the previous issue, and now noticed that when Faith and Gigi are on the balcony smoking, Faith holds her cigarette in her right hand, Gigi holds hers in her left.

Never noticed that. Thanks. I also now noticed how she changed her grip. Very good, detailed sword-fighting.

The idea that Buffy and Faith would end up fighting because Buffy assumes Faith's turned evil again isn't exactly a surprise, although the specific way it's done is still interesting.

I disagree. Up to now, the arc has made it pretty clear that Faith is estranged from the others, so I wasn't expecting them to be BFF's. But it went from:

BUFFY: Faith? What are you--

to

BUFFY: So you...decided to start your own evil slayer club?

straight to fighting. She doesn't even wait to hear Faith's answer. I expect that behaviour in seasons 3 and 4. But I expected Buffy to have a little more faith in Faith than she shows here.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd July 2011 01:02 (UTC)
Re: Rehashing past plots
faith

beyond that, it's naive. What are you gonna do when the soldiers attack? Put your hands in the air and hope they don't shoot you?

*Flashes to the cover of the 'Retreat' TPB* :)

To be fair to Willow, I think she's worried, not naive. She's realised that if humans are now their enemies, they're going to have to fight and kill humans. She doesn't like the idea - and thinks Buffy is being way too blasée and casual about it.


But it went from: “BUFFY: Faith? What are you--”
to “BUFFY: So you...decided to start your own evil slayer club?” straight to fighting.


Buffy is standing over Gigi, sword in hand, when Faith dives on her and pushes her away. Faith just saved Gigi's life - Gigi, the Slayer who was trying to kill Buffy moments earlier. The circumstantial evidence is weighed against Faith here.

Add in the fact that Buffy is still disorientated from the teleportation, furiously angry because she's discovered a Slayer is murdering other Slayers, and she's still hyped on adrenaline from the previous fight. Maybe she shouldn't have jumped to conclusions, but I don't hold it agaisnt her the way you seem to. And notice that once tempers have cooled after their fight, Buffy seems willing enough to speak to Faith in a reasonable manner... except that Willow teleports her away again before they can talk.

(There's also the fact that Buffy sometimes seems to see punching other superpowered people as nothing more than non-verbal punctuation, considering how often she does it.)

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 3rd July 2011 01:25 (UTC)
Re: Rehashing past plots

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