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(Review) BtVS 8.11 'A Beautiful Sunset'

7th February 2008 (19:05)

The big bad of season 8 is called Twilight.
The character with the most mysterious and unexplained arc in season 8 is called Dawn.
Coincidence?

Anyway, my first impression of 'A Beautiful Sunset' was that it felt rather flat, like nothing much happened... which is odd for an episode that advances the main season arc as well as answering several important questions - even including the 'Does Buffy know if Spike is alive?' one. On further thought I think that's rather unfair - it really didn't help that the most important new development was given to us a month ago in the preview; but also, I think I've got used to the Season 8 style of story telling that wraps mysteries inside enigmas inside conundrums. An episode where everything is plain and straightforward and questions are answered without new ones being posed just seems unnatural. Also, this was in many ways a fluffy episode - not quite comedy, but heading in that direction - and personally I've always preferred the doom and angst. (But not the episode 'Doomed', which is my 155th least favourite BtVS episode so far...).

I also suspect that a lot of ideas which Joss puts across in this issue, which to me just seem fairly obvious, will turn out to be quite controversial...


...Case in point being Buffy's unhesitating description of the Slayer Empowerment Spell as a 'good thing'. Clearly the writer of this story doesn't buy into the whole "What Buffy and Willow did in 'Chosen' was tantamount to mass rape" idea that some people espouse. It's interesting that the value of the empowerment is seen as not so much the strength ("though that does come in handy", as Buffy points out) but the sense of purpose and connection. I can see that - we know that nobody forces Slayers to sign up to fight evil any more, so presumably the girls in Team Buffy have all made a conscious decision. They know there are bad things in the world, but they also know that they, personally, now have enough power to help change that. They can actually make a difference themselves, and that's a powerful and positive thing to know. It's all very political and a metaphor for all sorts of real-world things, of course: and it's continuing the theme from 'The Chain'. Also, issue #10 was all about division and heartache and betrayal, so it's a nice contrast to make the theme of #11 'connection'.

In the montage of scenes from Chosen, Baseball Girl was drawn perfectly, but I'm afraid I only recognised Vi because she's standing behind Rona's right shoulder, just as she was in the TV show. Also, the sparkly red CGI glow is a new touch; I like the way a soft afterimage of it is still outlining the Slayers as they train at the bottom of the page.

Here's a question: is this supposed to be Satsu?

Girl leaning against a bank of lockers in school, from 'Chosen'

The lockers are drawn in an identical way. However, the girl in the screencap is wearing jeans, t-shirt and jacket, not blouse, tie and skirt the way Satsu's been pictured here; and her hair's different. I'd be happy if it is her, though - and put down the differences in clothing to artistic licence and/or a mistake (wouldn't be the first time *cough*Willowseyecolour*cough*...). Not only is it a nice touch of continuity, but it makes Satsu an actual Character Who Was On The Show and thus, according to some people, worthy of being a romantic interest of the Core Four. ;-)

Speaking of continuity, we've seen Simone twice before already, so it's nice to have it confirmed that that was foreshadowing. The moral message is pretty clear and obvious: Buffy crossed the line herself with her bank robbery, and now her followers are doing the same thing except with more violence. Buffy gave them power... but she can't control how they choose to use it, and some of them are making bad choices. That's what happens when you give people power without first chaining them to the earth (literally or metaphorically)...

Mind you, Simone herself would probably argue that she can fight evil much more effectively now that her team has automatic weapons and grenades; like she said in #2, she can now "do some real damage".  Question is, to what?  I expect her to become an ongoing subplot for much of the rest of the season.

On a side note, I know someone in real life who tends to hand me her coffee cup after she's finished with it the way Buffy does to Xander here, even if she's just as close to the kitchen as I am... :-)

Also, we've known at least since 'Chosen' that Buffy's a slasher at heart, but it's nice to get further confirmation. Assuming "that would be nice" is a reply to the idea of Xander getting a man, rather than her thinking she's like one for herself too, of course - though it could be both. Both Xander and Buffy seem to share a common opinion of Andrew that he's not the sort of person you'd want to bond with: they haven't been mysteriously converted into admirers of him despite putting him in charge of a squad. Mind you, they seem to be blaming Rona rather than Andrew for Simone going off the rails, although there might be an element of "well, what do you expect from Andrew?" in that.

In the preview I thought the glow reflected off Buffy and Xander's faces was either a surprise party, Inverness being nuked, or the light of lots of candles that Xander had lit so that he and Buffy could have sex next to them. Looks like guess no. 1 was correct... though it was a general party rather than Buffy's birthday party.

Dawn's size relative to the girls climbing over her is much smaller than I depicted her in my fic 'Netherlands to Nepal', meaning that Willow could have stood on the ground and wouldn't have fallen off twice. (If you don't understand that last sentence, be thankful...) Her drinking from opened beer kegs is cute, but I also liked the image of one of the Slayers casually lifting one of them while chatting to her friend as if it were made of polystyrene. (and in general, the way the image shows people who are clearly from all over the world)

Some other points of note: we have confirmation that Dawn is at least 18 (the drinking age in Scotland), making this episode no earlier than late 2004/early 2005, and not yet 21 (the drinking age in California) so it's no later than late 2007/early 2008. Xander has kept Dawn's confidence and not told Buffy what she said about Kenny and Nick last issue. And apparently Satsu and Renee are dancing together in a "we're both attracted to members of the Core Four/Three/Two secret club" kind of way while Leah watches with a drink in her hand. Either Rowena is off doing her own thing or she's the blonde girl next to Leah and totally unrecognisable because she's not wearing her baseball cap...  I do think this is the first time we've seen Renee interact with any of that group.

Edit: We already suspect Renee is a demon because Xander likes her... but notice here that she's brazenly and openly wearing the Tight Black Leather Trousers of Evil. She's definitely the traitor...

So back in the day, Buffy wore blue. Did the Germans wear grey?

Notice how every single act break in this issue has one character saying something which is then reflected or taken up by the characters in the next scene?

Satsu's fall and the mud are slapstick, though Buffy's in a serious mood: she pretty much slaps Satsu down when she makes a joke, which is quite jarring. Mentoring Slayers is serious business, especially if - as we now learn - Buffy considers Satsu as potential "her eventual replacement as leader" material.

Loved the reference to Buffy's dream in 'Restless'.

The next bit, with two characters having a serious emotional heart-to-heart in the middle of fighting vampires, is very much a standard BtVS trope, but it's always a fun one. I loved the futile attempts of the vampires to interject, and Buffy's dismissive replies. And kicking one high up into the air so he catches the  first rays of the rising sun is an inspired move... Satsu herself was pretty impressive too, as befits Buffy's chosen heir: drawing her sword and beheading the vampire running up behind her without even looking round is a classic samurai sort of move.

As for the emotional content of the scene: it was pretty much the way I thought it would go, though of course I'm pleased to be proven right. 
:-) Watching Satsu's successive reactions was instructive: she's embarrassed and ashamed when Buffy criticises her for getting her jump wrong (she wants to look good in front of her); she's struggling to remain impassive when she thinks Buffy might be leaving, and while Buffy is, in effect, stroking her face to clean the mud off (doesn't want her to know how she really feels).  When she realises Buffy does know she's in love with her she's horrified (and angry because the lip gloss gave it away), then gets really upset when she thinks that now Buffy won't want her around. I think she's resigned herself to the idea that she stands no chance of a relationship with Buffy - but probably can't resist hoping that maybe she's wrong and she will be interested after all.

Is she wrong? Buffy's never come across as anything other than thoroughly heterosexual before.. well, depending on your opinions on her feelings for Faith. Personally, I thought that the fact that Buffy was willing to joke about the fact that the two of them were in a relationship (the "really, we're just good friends" scene in the Bronze) was good evidence that she didn't actually take such a possibility seriously. (What Faith's opinions were on that subject is another question entirely, of course.) Buffy doesn't contradict that idea here either - although I can't help but comment that as an answer to "You're not gay", "Not so you'd notice" is rather more ambiguous than a flat-out "Sorry, no.". :-) 

In fact, Buffy is clearly pleased and flattered by Satsu's attraction to her, and obviously feels something for her too, even if it's non-sexual. Just look at her body language all through the issue - from the intimacy of cleaning Satsu's face, to kicking her across the set (what? She did that to Spike all the time when she was having a relationship with him...), to hugging her and cradling her head when she cries, to perching on her hospital bed and leaning forward all big-eyed and parted-lips and holding her hand. This could be Buffy's long-unsuspected-by-anyone-but-Faith bi side finally emerging. Just as likely, she's clinging to Satsu as her new best friend now that things are so awkward with Willow, and isn't used to governing her actions to make sure that they can't be interpreted as sexual come-ons the way she automatically would with a platonic male friend.

I don't know where they're heading with all this... but I can see Buffy almost falling into a relationship with Satsu by accident: because she's lonely, and feeling isolated from everybody except the other Slayers; and she likes Satsu and appreciates her supportiveness and is flattered by the attention; and while she's got no sexual interest in her she's not squicked by the idea either; and she feels guilty for not giving Satsu what she wants when Satsu does so much for Buffy... Someone should write the fic. Though I can't see it having a happy ending.

And then there's the speech that I suspect will be analysed to death, when Buffy breaks down in tears. Although I'm generally happy with the comic format, this is one speech that would be so much better spoken by the actress rather than written as a flat paragraph of text. I wonder how much we'd have to pay Sarah Prinze to record the audiobook version of this comic?  Anyway, the reference to people who love Buffy "burning up" seems pretty clear proof that she doesn't know that Spike came back afterwards, although I admit it's not entirely conclusive - Angel came back from Hell too. She clearly misses him (and Angel, and Riley) an awful lot, though. Though the reference to friends leaving too suggests that it's Willow's estrangement that has really triggered this outburst - and Buffy has taken to heart the idea that it's her fault.

The fact that Buffy refers to her lovers in the order Angel-Spike-Riley will doubtless enrage Spuffies and delight Bangels everywhere, especially since it's not chronological (in which case it would have been Angel-Riley-Spike).

Oh yeah, and the Big Bad also makes an appearance. Really, this is almost an anticlimax, the weakest part of the issue. The only reason Twilight shows up is to make a "mwah-ha-ha" speech ("I actually came here to talk"), bash Buffy around to show how powerful he is, and make her doubt herself. So far, so Adam/Glory/Caleb (delete as applicable).

It is interesting that Twilight's main aim was to "strip Buffy of her moral certainty" - something which quite a few readers believe needs to be done anyway. So again, Twilight the Big Bad is actually doing something we can sympathise with... But he reckoned without Xander's own superpower, as well as Buffy's connection to Satsu. (And notice that her defiant speech, after the classic-Joss "church me", is to tell Twilight that she's not alone, there are plenty of other girls ready to step into her shoes?)

The fight was impressive, although I didn't recognise the scenery: those buildings looked more Dutch or German than Scottish, although I'm not sufficiently familiar with Scottish architecture to say for sure. Anybody recognise anything? Other questions: how did Twilight watch Buffy and Willow? (Amusing speculation: Twilight's secret identity is actually Georges Jeanty, Joss Whedon or Scott Allie  :-) ). Why does Twilight's posse include a bunch of demons - I thought he was opposed to them? (or is he, *gasp*, a hypocrite?) I assume the woman was Lieutenant Molter, but the man didn't look like General Voll - is he still around?

I laughed at the so-called reveal of Twilight's face. Another reason why I call this a comedy episode. So, what do we know about Twilight? He's male, white, square-chinned, and wears a mask and cape. He can fly, and is super-strong. Sounds very much like your cliché comic superhero, in fact... which makes me wonder if it's Andrew's secret identity. Or Warren has had a chin-skin transplant since we last saw him.

On the other hand, I've also speculated that Twilight is Caleb, with those belts around his waist holding his bisected parts back together. Here's some more evidence to support this theory:

1. The second page of the comic includes a flashback of Caleb just to remind us about him.
2. "Always complaining, just like a girl" is typical Calebian misogyny. So is the talking about Buffy crying, later.
3. The clincher: Buffy tries to swing the Scythe up between Twilight's legs - just like she did to Caleb - and he says "I know that move, Slayer" as he stops her.

Plus, I can really hear Nathan Fillion saying the line "The trick is to strip her of her greatest armour... her moral certainty" with the same intonation he used in 'Dirty Girls' to say "The strongest, the fastest, the most aflame with that most precious invention of all mankind... the notion of goodness."

A lot of the nasty moments in season 8 have taken place, coincidentally enough, at twilight. But now, as Twilight gloats about his victory we see Buffy hugging Satsu and watching a beautiful sunrise (as opposed to a beautiful Dawn). In fact, this episode ends on a surprisingly hopeful note. Buffy telling Satsu that they'll both heal. Satsu actually making a slightly sarcastic joke. (We can deduce from the radical way she customised her combat outfit that she's hardly a conformist at heart, but previously she's always been entirely proper and respectful around Buffy, being careful to call her 'ma'am'.) Xander giving Buffy a pep-talk about giving people purpose and connection. Buffy encouraging Xander to ask Renee to go out with him - which is building on her raised eyebrows about them being 'sparring partners' back in the Faith arc. (Admittedly, it also puts a stake through the heart of any Buffy/Xander shippers reading who thought they were sure to get together now based on the preview. I wonder if Buffy's eagerness to see Xander paired off has any implications for her own feelings about Satsu??)

So Buffy's still feeling not-so-much connected and mopey... but that's practically her default state these days, so no shock there. As Xander says, being the leader is famous for being a lonely role. The big question is, what's the huge reveal in the next episode that Joss has warned retailers to buy in extra copies for?

Comments

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:07 (UTC)

Thanks for such a thoughtful and intersting review. I have a lot of reactions to it, so maybe I'll break them down into pieces.

...Case in point being Buffy's unhesitating description of the Slayer Empowerment Spell as a 'good thing'. Clearly the writer of this story doesn't buy into the whole "What Buffy and Willow did in 'Chosen' was tantamount to mass rape" idea that some people espouse. It's interesting that the value of the empowerment is seen as not so much the strength ("though that does come in handy", as Buffy points out) but the sense of purpose and connection. I can see that - we know that nobody forces Slayers to sign up to fight evil any more, so presumably the girls in Team Buffy have all made a conscious decision. They know there are bad things in the world, but they also know that they, personally, now have enough power to help change that. They can actually make a difference themselves, and that's a powerful and positive thing to know. It's all very political and a metaphor for all sorts of real-world things, of course: and it's continuing the theme from 'The Chain'. Also, issue #10 was all about division and heartache and betrayal, so it's a nice contrast to make the theme of #11 'connection'.

It is true that the issue points to the positive aspects of the Scythe spell both in Buffy's description and in Xander's pep talk at the end. But I read this as being substantially more ambiguous than do you. Buffy herself is clearly ironic by the time she gets to the 'yay me' cause she's looking square in the face of one of the negative aspects of the spell: rogue slayers. Twilight's challenge to her about whether the spell has made the world a better place carries weight (this is not just a bwa ha ha I love evil villain, I don't think.) So the spell is defintely morally ambiguous.

I still can't tell what Joss thinks about the 'rape' aspect of it. He seems, of course, to not notice it all. But is it an accident that in the opening scene Buffy and Xander casually talk about wiping the memory of the guards? And will that turn out to be symptomatic of the morally gray zone that Buffy and Xander now inhabit? The scene reminds us of that with Xander's cavalier response to the bank robbing thing (with a second instantiation in the party scene). So there's at least a good chance that we are supposed to see mind wiping as part of the package that sees bank robbing as sexy and as regrettably not being capable of financing a serious binge for Dawn, i.e. problematic. That doesnt' get us to thinking that a spell that also changes a person's being in importang ways is also bad. And the inspirational aspects of 'meaning and purpose' would seem to undercut the notion that it's a bad thing. To which all I can do is shrug and hope that the issue does surface at some point. If it doesn't, then I labor with the disconnect that happens when you visit a moral universe that is not the one you inhabit.

But clearly the ambiguity that is front in center is the question of whether Buffy's spell turns out to really be making the world a better place, or is just introducing a new kind of chaos (in which case she's a villain). Nata (Mrs. Underhill) will point out that Buffy's remarks on that point not only set up ambiguity here -- it reflects back on Angel's decision in NFA which was also a fight to change the status quo, not defend it against the agents of chaos.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:21 (UTC)
thechain-truth

Thanks for the reply! I do agree with your general conclusion that the spell has had ambiguous results. Where we (and I think Joss too) part ways is that you see it as inherent in the spell itself: that it was morally wrong to change people's lives without asking first. My view is that all the spell did is give people more ability to make their own choices and more power to enact those choices, which is morally a good thing. However, people are people - a point Buffy makes herself here - and so some of the choices these newly empowered women make are very bad ones. Hence the ambiguity... Simone wouldn't be a threat if she wasn't a Slayer, and it was Buffy who made her a Slayer. Everything has consequences.

I've used the analogy before, but it's like female suffrage... I'm sure there were plenty of women back then who bought into the line that women weren't capable of understanding politics: they would hurt their brains and damage their femininity if they tried, and so giving them the vote was a bad thing. It wasn't, of course: it gave choices and power to half the adult population. You don't have to vote i you don't want to (uless you're Australian) but at least now you have the option.

And yes, some women use their power unwisely by voting for people like Bush or Thatcher or Sarkozy, but that's a sad but inevitable consequence of giving people the ability to make their own decisions...

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:31 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 21:01 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 21:03 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 21:14 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:01 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:44 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 23:18 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 01:40 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 10:11 (UTC)

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:24 (UTC)
Strong Like an Amazon

I love that you post such detailed reviews, because I always have to wait forever to pick up the new issues when they come out, and I want to find out what happens right away. :D

This issue sounds pretty good -- I can't wait to get it. I saw scans of the Buffy/Satsu conversation over at scans_daily, and I agree with you; Buffy's speech about everyone leaving her and whatnot would have been so much more effective if actually said aloud.

(Also, I kind of want Twilight to be Andrew's secret identity.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:49 (UTC)

Thanks! I saw what you posted on your own journal and replied there, but there'#s another scene you'll probably want to see as soon as possible. :-)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:25 (UTC)

On the shippy stuff. I read "not so you'd notice" as just being a clever way of saying "not a bit". Buffy handled this all well, which I think is mostly possible because she doesn't have ambivalent feelings about it. Just my reaction.

Buffy is eager to pair Xander up with Renee because people who are in love with her suffer badly. I think Buffy/Xander is very much in the works -- after many twists and turns of course. (Though there's a large pause where I have to also say that Xander is 'off' in various ways that have hitherto signalled reveal to come, so who really knows what will happen there.)

Alas, we can't tell whether she knows or doesn't know whether Spike is back. The ordering could be in order of her love for the guy; or in order of the trauma caused by the event referred to. If the latter, it's interesting because Spike's sacrifice was actually a good ending for him -- and to still register negatively that way means it's all about the loss of the relationship. (Her feelings about the ending of Angel would include loss of him, but also guilt, and regret and lots of other things). Anyway, no point in mulling over the tea leaves on all of this. In general, the 'burning up' just doesn't fit in with a litany of 'being sent to hell' and 'getting suck jobs from vampires'. Not sure if that's significant or not. I rather hope so, and that it somehow matches the other asymmetry which is that Riley and Angel rated spots in her dreamspace whereas Spike did not. Hard to know what to make of it. Lots of different readings possible here.

On Twilight. Agree that Caleb fits the dialog most naturally. Am not very positive about that possibility, however. Caleb was never more than a cliche for me, and I'm very much hoping that Twilight is not a cliche.

I'd connect Buffy's lack of connection with her loss of her moral center. I think it's subtext all the way through. And Twilight is exactly right about where her real weak spot is. And I do love that. For anyone who thought that we were supposed to buy that it is in character for Buffy to rob banks this is a big wake up call. We don't yet know what drove her to it. But she has lost something central to herself in crossing that line. And that's the story that still has my complete attention.

Agree with you, though, that compared to the dazzling new view of Buffy's world opened up by the revelation of BtBR this was a less exciting issue. It fleshes out the reveal a bit, and underscores the fact that it's of utmost significance. I don't love the teasing about Twilight's identity. "who is it" types of speculation are inherently less interesting than "what does it mean" sorts of analysis. But there's plenty here to suggest that when we get those further reveals, they will illuminate the picture in interesting ways.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 21:01 (UTC)

I read "not so you'd notice" as just being a clever way of saying "not a bit"

Oh, so did I. But then I realised that line could equally be read as "I totally am, but I keep it so well hidden that nobody realises". I'm sure the deliberate ambiguity was Joss's gift to the slashers, not something Buffy herself intended...


we can't tell whether she knows or doesn't know whether Spike is back. The ordering could be in order of her love for the guy; or in order of the trauma caused by the event referred to.

At least she doesn't say "Burn up, then come back to life and never come to see me, never call me, never write to me..." Which would surely be even more traumatic for someone with Buffy's abandonment issues...


For anyone who thought that we were supposed to buy that it is in character for Buffy to rob banks this is a big wake up call.

My argument was that it's in character for her to find herself being pushed down a road where eventually she thinks that this would be a good thing to do. No arguments from me that by doing so, she's also 'losing her moral centre'. Slide too far down a slippery slope and eventually you drop off the edge.


I don't love the teasing about Twilight's identity

Yes - after all this it's almost certain to be an anticlimax once he finally is revealed.

Posted by: enisy (enisy)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:47 (UTC)
Spike (WTF Joss)

Great review. :)

The fact that Buffy refers to her lovers in the order Angel-Spike-Riley will doubtless enrage Spuffies and delight Bangels everywhere, especially since it's not chronological (in which case it would have been Angel-Riley-Spike).

Not really. Angel's death was a more traumatic experience for Buffy, since she was forced to kill him, whereas Spike willingly died for her. Makes sense that it would be the first to come to mind.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 20:51 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure you're right... and equally, the long-winded bit about Riley and his vampire brothel really only works stylistically at the end of the sentence.

But I'm sure that won't stop some people using it as proof that Angel always comes first for Buffy... :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 21:55 (UTC)

Lovely review as usual :)

Curious, what's your favorite issue so far? :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:12 (UTC)
willow-snake

Thanks! I'm not sure I have a 'favourite' as such... though if I had to choose I'd probably say 'The Chain' simply because it was self-contained and had a powerful message. I think more of individual scenes that had an impact, like "Stay calm, dammit!" "No. Panic.", or Faith's internal dialogue matching her words as the two gargoyles picked her up...

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 04:18 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:23 (UTC)

Interesting review.

So far, I only read the pages on scans_daily, giggled at Restless reference and realised that after Richards I have hard time getting used to Jeanty again.

I also read spoilers at FanForum and noticed that Twilight says "One Slayer was all right. But all these girls....The world can't contain them,and they will suffer for that. I'll not kill you now. My first gift is my last. I know that you meant well but you have brought about a disaster. And it falls to me to advert it." - and I think it doesn't sound as Caleb at all.

I'll be back when I read the issue.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:34 (UTC)

I think it doesn't sound as Caleb at all.
Really? Try saying it with a Nathan Fillion accent (more Cap'n Mal than Caleb, to be honest). Works perfectly for me...

Not to mention other lines like "The Chosen One, always in pain... and always complaining. Just like a girl." and "But there you were... going on about how hard it is for you, and, well... I just hate to see you cry." Perfect mix of patronising misogyny mixed with false-kindness.

Not that it necessarily is Caleb, of course - on Buffyforums the consensus seems to be that it's Riley, which seems even more nonsensical to me...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:44 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 22:59 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 21:44 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 9th February 2008 20:16 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 7th February 2008 23:17 (UTC)

Comedy episode? Good lord! Not hardly. More like the most tragic issue yet, I think.

Also, I don't think Spuffies will be engraged at all by the order in which Buffy remembers her ex-lovers. Why would they? They'll just be glad she remember Spike at all.

I'm not concerned with those kinds of nit-picky details, just pleased to finally get a glimpse of Buffy's emotional state of mind, which has been sadly lacking up to now.

Posted by: skipp_of_ark (skipp_of_ark)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 00:02 (UTC)

As with all 'ships, there's the batshit insane stripe of 'shipper that seemed to be personally offended that Joss would dare to start S8 at a point where Buffy wasn't sitting shiva (sp?) for Spike. Then again, I've seen a few Anya fans who are upset that the Renee-subplot has been introduced without so much as a mention of Anya and whether or not Xander is still mourning for her. Then again, I'm pretty sure one reason s8 is set at least a year or more after "Chosen" is so that we can assume both Buffy and Xander have already processed through their grief and mourning, and that Joss would say that that is just something fans only "want" to see but don't "need" to see. Whether the fans agree or not is, of course, up to them.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 00:31 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 09:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 00:28 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 09:59 (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 17:21 (UTC)

That would be a good example of the sort of controversy I thought this would attract. ;-)

In my opinion, her feelings for Angel were the inexperienced-16-year-old schoolgirl kind of love: overwhelming, overdramatic and short-lived (although leaving a permanent happy memory). With Spike it was... complicated. And really depends on your definition of "love".

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: mrs_underhill (mrs_underhill)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 16:31 (UTC)
Illyria says - canon!

Hmm, I thought the issue was very dark, angsty and full of foreboding and uneasy, uncomfortable questions. As far from fluffy as you can get.
Also it presented new questions all right, the main one being what is really Twilight's motivation? Is it really a death of all magic or is it just one of the lies in his game? Is he really a bad guy even? His goal seems to be to undo the change brought on by Buffy. The change she's uneasy about herself, and we she likens to an apocalypse.

Also I think the way it was shown Buffy talking to herself that she did a good thing in Chosen was meant to be self-doubt on her part. She's questioning herself whether she did a right thing. And the whole issue is about it - almost every page makes us consider both sides of it.
See "yay me" superimposed over Simone beating up guards. See Buffy saying "I started it", understanding that Simone is an extension of what she did with her bank robbery. Note the revelation Buffy has to herself - that bringing about more Slayers lead to there being more demons in the world. Foreboding, foreboding. Note even how Twilight and Buffy are dressed the same in their fight - in black shiny armour. Are they both the sides of the same coin? Twilight seems to echo Buffy in this issue, speaking aloud of what Buffy thinks about herself. And he's very intimate with her - knows so much about her. Hmm.
Xander also is playing games and is a closed book, pulling Buffy into dangerous directions. If not for his alibi in #1 I'd think that he is Twilight, right now and then.
He talks about connection and power - and we see girls cloistered up in a castle, partying behind closed doors with each other. They are connected to each other, but again and again we are shown that they are separated from the rest of the world. So unlike Buffy herself in her youth.
And Buffy being nostalgic about fighting vampires on cemetaries shows how far they all went from their traditional purpose.

Some other points. No, we can't say whether Buffy knows that Spike is alive. She lists him in the same way as Angel and Riley, who went throught bad things and then left her. So it may mean both things about Spike.
Also when Buffy and Xander don't finish the sentence about Andrew, they don't mean he's not a valid friend, but that it's proposterous to call him "a man". :) Like in a manly man. They think that he's closer to "a girl", in other words.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 17:38 (UTC)
buffy-S8

I thought the issue was very dark, angsty and full of foreboding

I seem to be in the minority here, but I stand by my opinion that especially in comparison to, say, issue #10, or issue #5, or issue #9, or issues #1-4... 'A Beautiful Sunset' is much more upbeat and cheerful...

Buffy talking to herself that she did a good thing in Chosen was meant to be self-doubt on her part.

Not my impression. Not self-doubt so much as rueful reflection. Like I said to Maggie, I think she (and Joss) believe that she really did do a good thing - but like anything humans do in the real world, it has consequences.

If you give freedom to other people, they can use that freedom to commit evil actions. Are you responsible for their evil? Your original actions made it possible, after all. And Buffy always feels the burden of responsibility heavily...

Posted by: mrs_underhill (mrs_underhill)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 18:07 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 8th February 2008 18:56 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 08:12 (UTC)
Ianto awesome by rebelsaint

I think she's resigned herself to the idea that she stands no chance of a relationship with Buffy - but probably can't resist hoping that maybe she's wrong and she will be interested after all.
She ought to try using a stopwatch! ;)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 17:12 (UTC)

I'm probably being really slow today, but I don't quite get that? (At least, not if it's a specific reference to something)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 17:26 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 18:13 (UTC)

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 21:56 (UTC)
[buffy] faith fire komiks

This is the first time I didn't have any spoilers for the issue, and I still think it fell rather flat - but it did have it's moments. Any killing of Xander/Buffy is honey for my soul, Buffy mentioning Spike at all makes me happy (and Spuffy shipper that I am, I still think that Angel was the love of her life so of course she'll mention him first).

The Andrew/Xander & Buffy/Satsu moments were birthday come very early... And I am looking forward to the next issue very much!

I am very curious about the Twilight guy - it would be very nice to have him be someone we already know, yet on the other hand, I'd be loath for it to be someone she trusts. I'm scared about the betrayal thing in general...

The reveal of his face was great :D I loved it.

On the whole, I'd give the issue 6,5/10. But a strong one at that. Looking forward to the next one!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 23:17 (UTC)

I did laugh out loud at the Twilight non-reveal... but I did also think it was a bit cheesy. Sinister world-conquering supervillains aren't supposed to get itchy necks. :-)

And someone should write a spoof fic where it turns out that everyone has betrayed Buffy...

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 10th February 2008 23:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th February 2008 00:55 (UTC)

Posted by: bloodbath12 (bloodbath12)
Posted at: 11th February 2008 20:51 (UTC)
Butsu

Excellent as always. I am kinda warming to the idea that Twilight could be Caleb mostly cuz of the reasons you stated (expect a rant on why he might be RILEY soon). As a side note against Twilight bein Caleb, Caleb was pro-demon, whereas Twilight is anti. Jes a thought.
Yes Twilight is a hypocrite but meh, he's a villian.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th February 2008 00:38 (UTC)
satsu

Thanks. :-) To be honest, I'm not sure that Caleb ever expressed an opinion on demons either way. He was in charge of organising the Bringers, but they were originally human, not demon; he had nothing to do with the Turok-han; and he didn't have any demons working for him. So...?

Posted by: bloodbath12 (bloodbath12)
Posted at: 11th February 2008 20:53 (UTC)
Butsu

Also (sorry for the double, forgot to say, just respond to one if you're gonna)W00T for Buffy and Satsu. I have been a big supporter of the pairing since the kiss (expect a manifesto on the pairings of season 8 in with the rant about Twilight=Riley)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th February 2008 17:17 (UTC)

LMAO are you trying to stir up trouble?

Er, no? *whistles innocently*

The comment was tongue-in-cheek, but while i've not encountered this subset of fandom much myself I've heard enough horror stories...

Posted by: My Sanctuary (married_n_mich)
Posted at: 7th March 2008 22:12 (UTC)
Scoobie - Comic

Yep. Late to the party. That's me. I just read this and I'm already behind.

The only thing I have to offer is in regards to Buffy's *loves*. I didn't notice the order either, but I did notice that she included Spike and Riley in the list. The entire "I love you - No you don't" speech in Chosen was up for huge debate on whether or not she meant it. And the Buffy/Riley shippers who thought she did love him, but was afraid to admit it.

There's all sorts of love in the air, eh? Perhaps different degrees of it in her case, but there nonetheless.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2008 23:27 (UTC)

Well, to be pedantic, she does say "people who love me" not "people I love"... (Though I think she's more afraid to admit to loving people than incapable of love itself)

Posted by: My Sanctuary (married_n_mich)
Posted at: 10th March 2008 13:21 (UTC)

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 3rd July 2011 01:15 (UTC)
Nice review

I liked the way you anticipated certain responses from the readers, hahaha.

Saving the world means keeping the status quo.

Hmm, no. Or...only for a strictly defined definition of status quo. Saving the world has meant:
(*) defeating Lothos
(*) defeating The Master
(*) defeating the Mayor
(*) defeating Glory
and often in a permanent way. It **changes** the status quo, because they're not around anymore.

And then there's the speech that I suspect will be analysed to death, when Buffy breaks down in tears. Although I'm generally happy with the comic format, this is one speech that would be so much better spoken by the actress rather than written as a flat paragraph of text.

I don't know how the emotional stuff is handled in other comics, but I agree with you here. It would have been better with the actress. Or...you know, written in non-comic format by an author that is good at this stuff. Because the way it is now comes across as overacting. A sad face would have been enough, but the sudden tears and hands on her face...it doesn't connect well with the text.

One slayer was all right, but all these girls... ...the world can't contain them. And they will suffer for that. [snippet of additional insane ramblings]

Does. Not. Compute. Unless they start telling the reader how the Buffy verse works, I'm having a hard time believing Buffy's reaction to such statements.

I'm also not really seeing that slippery slope. I think comparing it to the appeasement policy is kind of interesting. Giving in a bit, compromising...is understandable...but ultimately you have to draw a line in the sand. The problem is, without really knowing why she robbed a bank, it's kind of hard to judge whether she crossed the line. It's like arguing whether a poor man stealing a loaf of bread is right or wrong. (Isn't that something like absolute morality versus relative morality?)

BTW, has anyone actually brought up the idea that Giles is the traitor. It would make the comparison between his death and Jenny's complete wouldn't it?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd July 2011 02:01 (UTC)
Re: Nice review

only for a strictly defined definition of status quo.

Sure. On one level, every time a butterfly flaps its wings it changes the status quo. But for the expression to be more meaningful, what people like the Master and Glory planned would have radically changed the status quo, as in "The Sun won't come up tomorrow" kind of thing. To that extent Buffy was trying to preserve the status quo. (Lothos, on the other hand, wasn't a threat to the status quo but rather part of it.)


I'm having a hard time believing Buffy's reaction to such statements

With hindsight, I take all that as him trying to push Buffy into the necessary frame of mind for the Twilight prophecy to come into effect, rather than being an actual Statement Of Fact About The Buffyverse, or even something he personally believes.

And Buffy's reaction seems reasonable to me - at first she's all "Don't be ridiculous", but then after he's gone she has a moment of self-doubt - maybe what she's done isn't enough to make a difference, or might even make matters worse? We saw at the start of the issue that she's becoming conflicted about things like Simone, and the bank robbery.

I don't think that Buffy robbing the bank was her "crossing the line" so much as a sign she's on the downward slope. There are other signs too, from her apparent lack of urgency finding a cure for Dawn to her leaving humans to be killed by vampires in 'TOYL'. Each action justifiable in context, but put together adding up to something worrying.


Isn't that something like absolute morality versus relative morality?

I thought that was more about whether you believe that Right and Wrong are universal concepts and higher truths (which is a viewpoint most religious people take, for obvious reasons - God's Law defines what is good and evil); or if you believe that they're only cultural concepts made up by humans, and so can vary from one culture to another.


has anyone actually brought up the idea that Giles is the traitor.

Well, he was a traitor in one sense, in that he was looking for a way to kill Buffy if he had to. But I don't think he was feeding information to Angel, so he wasn't *the* traitor.

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