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(Review) BtVS 8.14 'Wolves at the Gate' Part 3

10th May 2008 (17:42)

Joss, you bastard.

Or possibly, Drew, you bastard.


Whoever thought this plot twist up, they're making a pretty good job of turning Toru and his gang into the sort of villains you really, really hate. So even though I urgently want to see them receiving a righteous smackdown in the next episode, I'm also kind of hoping they escape to return again in future episodes. Anyway, on to the review.

The opening scene of Aiko strung up as a welcome message is the sort of thing that's effective as long as you can suspend your disbelief... like, how did Toru know where and when Buffy would land? Presumably they put Aiko there immediately before the other Slayers arrived, since the police haven't had chance to intervene... but that still doesn't explain why Buffy is actually allowed to cut her down and take her body away without the authorities objecting.  It's either the Japanese version of Sunnydale forgettyitis in full bloom, or the Tokyo police are even more deeply stupid than  the Sunnydale ones... or maybe they're been bribed by Toru's gang to stay well away from the area and let Buffy deal with the body herself.

I assume that it's Satsu standing at Buffy's right shoulder... she's wearing the same red circular hair ornament she is later on, although it's on the opposite side of her head then. (If this were TV I'd call that a continuity error.) If it is her, this scene does at least prove that she can read and speak Japanese, making it more likely that she is in fact Japanese herself and not an Asian-American or some such.

The Japanese version of Castle Slayer is even more impressive than the Scottish one. I'm not sure why Aiko's body has been wrapped like that; as far as I can tell (from Wikipedia, where else?) it's not a normal Japanese or Buddhist custom. As I've mentioned before, the scene where Buffy carries her in her arms past the horrified spectators is very reminiscent of the similar scene in 'Fray'.

It's very in character of Buffy to carry Aiko's body like that, being all dutiful and strong (and solitary) until she's finally alone, at which point she curls up into a ball and sits there brooding for hours. You can tell why Angel liked her. It's also nice to see that for all their recent quarrels Willow is still there to be supportive.

Mind you, I'm not sure Tara would approve of Willow 'conjuring up some blankets' instead of just going to fetch some. Unless either Willow was joking (or being metaphorical), or else using magic to meet trivial everyday needs is only dangerous and addictive for witches at a certain stage of development, which Willow has now got past. This scene did get a bit heavy on the exposition of things we already know, I thought - though it's interesting that Willow is happy to refer fondly to Giles, so whatever quarrel he had with Buffy doesn't apply to her. (She's also the one with his number in her phone, if you remember).

Dracula is great in this scene - supercilious, arrogant, snarky, annoying and saying exactly the most appalling thing he could possibly have said. Willow, on the other hand, is adorable, from her enthusiastic "And Xander!" to the way she dubiously sniffs at her armpits after Dracula comes out with his "acrid stench" crack, then insecurely tucks her hands under her arms.

So, Toru's gang have a "robotics division", do they? I dread to think what we're going to see in episode 8.15. I'm thinking that cyber-ninja are going to be the most likely (especially given what happened in Angel Season 5), although I wouldn't entirely rule out a mass of killer 'Smile Time' puppets... However, what I'm really hoping for is that they've built a squad of 12-metre tall fusion-powered battle robots, so we can have a grand mecha-versus-giant-teenager battle next month.

Renee is good at acting baity. (It took me a moment to recognise her). I did like her line about the street signs being in Japanese. Incidentally, Willow still sucks at Latin. As far as I can tell, "Constrixi deficio" is meaningless: although 'deficio' does mean "I cease", there's no such word as "constrixi". ("Constrinxi" with an 'n' means "I restrained").

Buffy shows her ruthless side. I actually felt sorry for the vampire for a moment, until I remembered that he was in fact planning to eat Renee before he got caught. It's obvious that Buffy never realised that the Slayer spell could be reversed, and she's horrified by the idea.

And then there's the other side to Buffy. There was speculation before that she would abuse her power to show favouritism to Satsu, and that's exactly what seems to be going on here... although when Satsu says she doesn't know if it's to avoid her or protect her, I'm not sure myself which is the right answer. For that matter, I'm not sure if Buffy herself knows... or maybe she honestly thought she was making the best tactical decision by leaving Satsu in charge of the Japanese Slayers, and didn't realise how it would be perceived.

Those who argue that the Slayer organisation is a strict military hierarchy where everybody has to obey orders should note that Satsu here says to Buffy's face "I'm not following your orders", and apparently doesn't suffer any consequences. In a real army, she could be shot for less.

And it seems that Buffy's sexual attraction to Satsu wasn't entirely a one night stand kind of thing. :-) Much to her own confusion and disbelief. So, does Buffy get off on being called 'Ma'am' in general, because she's a control freak with megalomaniac tendencies? Or is it specifically something about the way Satsu says it? One thing for certain is that it's not submissiveness that turns her on, given the way I imagine Satsu angrily spat out that last 'Ma'am' as she left...

And from one loving couple to another. Given what happens later, the comparison to Tara and Willow in 'Seeing Red' is unavoidable. This scene is cute and funny and touching and occasionally silly, especially when Dracula joins in. He so wants to be invited to a threesome date with them, you can just tell.

And Renee says "Now you don't have to worry about what happens at the end." Can we say "dramatic irony?"

Interesting line-up for the start of the big battle. Buffy. Satsu, right there just as she threatened. Xander and Renee. Dracula being snarky. Andrew, for some unknown reason. And Leah, but no Rowena. I'm beginning to worry about Rowena, we haven't seen her for months... I liked Buffy's comment about "they can't hurt us" followed by her immediate qualification.

Willow's next bit of Latin still sucks, but not as badly. "Dea pro mihi, audite meus dico" means, literally, "Goddess for me, listen my I say" At least you can figure out what she was trying to say. And "Patefacio prodigium pro nos totus" means "I reveal the monster for us all", although the case endings don't match. Still, she's evidently powerful enough that she can make her magic work despite getting the words wrong.

"Hi. Or, I mean... roar?" has to be one of the best lines of the season. Although Dawn's cameo appearance did seem a bit of a let-down after all the build-up it's had.

And then we have the shock ending. Like I said at the start, if we didn't hate Toru already, we do now. (At least those of us with any soul do...) Killing one very new character in a particularly brutal fashion was bad enough, but now they've killed one of the most sympathetic and interesting of the Season 8 characters, who's been built up over 13 episodes just for this.

Also, now both Xander and Willow have had their girlfriend's lifeblood splashed over their face. I'm hoping Xander doesn't react the way Willow did in 'Villains', but I honestly don't know how he's going to take this. Well, apart from 'badly' but that's a given.

Before continuing, there is one thing I feel I ought to say. What happened to Renee would probably be fatal within 20-30 seconds for any normal human - shock, bloodloss and breakdown of the circulatory system leading to oxygen starvation of the brain and thus death. But Renee's not a normal human, and she's got a person who's now apparently capable of healing her own lobotomy and blinding standing right next to her. The Scythe also appears to have penetrated the right side of her chest, not the left or centre, so may have missed the heart. In other words, I'm not ready to completely write her off as dead and not coming back until we've seen the next issue. I'm inclined to think she is dead, mind you, but we'll see.

Of course, it's not the first time Renee has been stabbed through the chest from behind, which now can be seen as foreshadowing. Also, she's hanging about with Vlad the Impaler, so this form of death is ironic from that point of view too. (And maybe Dracula knows ways to keep people alive after they've been impaled?)

Now, I've not read any other reviews before writing this, in order to remain unspoiled. But I'm willing to bet that there's already a controversy brewing over two facts, namely 1) "How predictable, Joss killed off a character's love interest just as they were getting close." (2) "How predictable, the black woman was the one who got killed." Am I right?

There's probably also a conspiracy theory getting started that Drew killed off Renee to clear the path for a Xander/Dracula romance. Or possibly Buffy/Xander, as they comfort each other over their loss(es).

Regarding the first charge; I kind of agree, it is becoming a formula. And yet, it's a formula because it works... I was still shocked (yes, and surprised) by the last page of this issue. And horrified, and angry, and worried as to how the other characters will react now, and what's going to happen next. Which is presumably exactly how Drew wanted me to react.

Of course, I'll be impressed if it turns out there's a twist still to come, or if the characters themselves recognise and react to the fact that being romantically involved with a Scooby is likely to be fatal. It's been hinted that there'll be a memorable Buffy/Satsu moment at the end of the next issue, and I'm wondering now if it will be her agreeing with Buffy's warning in 8.11 to stay away from her for her own safety, and so deciding to remain behind in Japan.

Which will be a pity. After 14 issues the new characters were starting to acquire personalities and recognisable characteristics, and to lose both Renee and Satsu in a single arc would not be good.

As for the second charge... I can sympathise with the argument, even if I don't entirely agree. I was actually quite impressed, given all the criticism of Joss for his previous shows being almost all-white, that he introduced love interests for both Buffy and Xander who were non-white. Of course, given the life expectancy of Scooby girlfriends this was bound to come back to haunt him eventually, and I'd have been unimpressed too if he'd chosen to give Renee and Satsu a free pass, because their ethnicity rendered them immune to harm. So in a way, poor Joss couldn't win either way.

And now I want to know what happens next.

 

Comments

Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: sl_podcast (sl_podcast)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 17:54 (UTC)
sex=bad

sigh - no one can be happy in a relationship.


...no one.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:02 (UTC)

Kennedy and Willow!
:-)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 19:14 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 09:44 (UTC)

Posted by: Darkstar (the_darkstar)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 12:15 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 17:56 (UTC)

Great read as always!

maybe she honestly thought she was making the best tactical decision by leaving Satsu in charge of the Japanese Slayers, and didn't realise how it would be perceived.

The more I think about it, I think that's precisely it - except it's more than just tactical. She's setting Satsu up to be her successor, and she seems to think the best way is to give Satsu the same experiences that Buffy herself had in s7 - taking care of the less experienced Slayers, handling burial detail, etc. Buffy is trying to delegate, to mould Satsu in her image. Whether it's the right way of doing it... Satsu doesn't seem to see it that way. I can't blame her.

I'm beginning to worry about Rowena, we haven't seen her for months

She was in #12, wasn't she?

Now, I've not read any other reviews before writing this, in order to remain unspoiled. But I'm willing to bet that there's already a controversy brewing over two facts, namely 1) "How predictable, Joss killed off a character's love interest just as they were getting close." (2) "How predictable, the black woman was the one who got killed." Am I right?

Pretty much. :-) And personally I'm more bothered by 1) than by 2) - even if there's been quite a bit of characterization for Renee over the last 14 issues, I still don't think she's enough of a character in her own right (as opposed to just "Xander's love interest") to make us her (probable) death a tragedy in itself; it looks a little too much like a plot device, and one we've seen almost frame-for-frame before with characters we'd had more time to get to care about. Was she built up for 13 issues just for this moment?

As for whether she's dead or not, I'm pretty sure she is; precisely because the whole setup is so similar to Tara's and Fred's, and also... she looks dead-ish, and she sort of used up her extra life in #3. Of course, if she's not it would be a welcome twist on a cliché, even if it would devalue the concept of death even more... If she is dead, however, I really hope we get some sort of explanation of why she couldn't be saved. Like you say, Willow can do some pretty powerful magical microsurgery these days, and surely she should get the same 16-second 4-second gap as Amy? ;-)

There's probably also a conspiracy theory getting started that Drew killed off Renee to clear the path for a Xander/Dracula romance. Or possibly Buffy/Xander, as they comfort each other over their loss(es).

Which would barely make sense if this wasn't (presumably) a series which is pretty tightly plotted right from the beginning, where we don't have to worry about actors leaving or developing substance abuse problems mid-arc; I doubt that the individual writers would get to kill off major characters without Joss' permission, and if Renee got killed off now, then she was always going to get killed off now. This isn't a shipping fic; if they wanted Xander/Buffy from the start, they would never have had to introduce Renee in the first place. (Which isn't to say that they won't go there, though I doubt it.) Personally, I'd say he'd be more inclined to blame Buffy for her death than fall in love with her again...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:11 (UTC)
season8-cannon

Thanks! (And I've just caught up with the other reviews, including yours).

I like the idea of Buffy trying to mould Satsu into her sucessor; I'd not thought of it that way. But like you've said, for Buffy to hand over the responsibility of burying one of 'her' Slayers is actually a big deal in terms of trust and delegation.

Although they actually cremate people in Japan, not bury them. But perhaps she doesn't know that. :-)


As for Renee's death; I'e been thinking about how Xander will take it, but there's also the question of Willow's reaction given that she remembers all too clearly what happened last time this sort of thing occured. Will she freeze up? Will there be a big fight between her and Xander?

While it can get boring if the writers just repeat the same story too often, I think it's compeltely different if they knowingly repeat elements of that story and then use them to contrast the characters' reactions, draw parallels, or what have you. Given Drew Goddard's record as the inventor of continuity porn I'm hoping for the latter. (I bet it was his idea to show the blood splash too).

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:31 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 09:46 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:42 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 20:58 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 09:54 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 11:48 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 12:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 16:59 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 17:13 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 18:20 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 19:07 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 19:28 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 21:44 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 21:55 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 22:08 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 22:44 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 22:59 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 00:53 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 13:14 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 18:24 (UTC)
Scoobies

Great review, as always.

1) "How predictable, Joss killed off a character's love interest just as they were getting close." (2) "How predictable, the black woman was the one who got killed." Am I right?

Actually, my thought weas "in the show it was sex that triggered badness and death. In comics writers went further - a simple kiss is does it".

As to #2:

SPIKE
Okay. These two are dead. Why?
RONA
'Cause the black chick always gets it first?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 09:57 (UTC)
buffy-satsu-healing

To be fair, I don't think it's either sex or kissing - I think it's simply one character becoming emotionally attached to another which triggers the badness and death...

Thanks!

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 16:40 (UTC)

Posted by: satsux (satsux)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 20:17 (UTC)

I don't think Joss should get any form of crap for the Black Chick gor killed thing. I agree that just cause Satsu and Renee aren't white doesn't mean they don't get to get the established bad luck of the verse. And sadly in both Buffy and Angel, dating people, or even liking people from the core scoobies puts them in the position to be in danger. It's a lesson that goes as far back as Season 1, with Owen.

And it doesn't even apply to people with powers. Tara, Jenny, for example.

They battle the forces of darkness. The Scoobies choose this life, and the people their around it choose it too. And some times there's casualties. It's just how it is, and it's the norm and one of the reasons I can respect the Buffyverse. They're not afraid to kill off characters.

It's it expected? Maybe. But as you said here, it's effective. The last page was justy shocking and surprising and it did grip me.

As for how this will affect the over all arc? I think this will end up with Satsu realizing Buffy's right about loving her = death too. Everyone complained about Buffy and Satsu sleeping together when A Beautiful Sunset seemed to indicate things were pretty clear and over. But I think the pay off for that will come at the end of these events.

Also, I would love if this is the reason Xander ends up being the Traitor. We have yet to hear what went on with him and Drac while he mourned Anya. And I wouldn't be all surprised if he blamed Buffy a little for it.

Of course, I may be stretching it a bit there.

I am sad that Renee didn't turn out to be a demon. They finally broke Xander's demon chiclk track record.

Mantis Praying Teacher.
Inca Mummy girl.
Cordy (A demon after they stopped dating, but a demon none the less.)
Anya.
Lisa.

Though if slayers were made out of the heart of a demon, does that mean that she counts as a demon?

Also, all these girls are dead. And as much as Buffy and Willow wanna bitch about their love lives, not all the people they liked ended up underground.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 10:00 (UTC)
buffy-satsu-healing

I agree, pretty much - they're fighting life and death battles, they can't all expect script immunity.

And while Slayers seem to count as human for most purposes, they're certainly demonic-fuelled killing machines, so I think Renee fits in the fine Xander Harris tradition.

Everyone complained about Buffy and Satsu sleeping together when A Beautiful Sunset seemed to indicate things were pretty clear and over

I didn't, because I got the exact opposite message from 8.11. I read that as Buffy trying to convince herself (and Satsu) that there was nothing between them, while all the time her body language was saying the opposite. See icon. :-)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 20:35 (UTC)

Sadly, I found the whole issue so blah! I'm not sure I can even be bothered to write a review.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 10:01 (UTC)

You can borrow mine, then. :-)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 20:55 (UTC)
S8 OT3 by st_salieri

One very quick thought - the Buffy/Satsu scene reminded me of the Buffy/Angel scene in 'Chosen': 'I need a second front and I need you to run it.'

Except of course Satsu *really* isn't Angel... any thoughts on that? 'Fraid my brain is fried and full of DW/TW stuff.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 10:08 (UTC)
thechain-truth

It actually reminded me of the other similar scene at the end of Season 7 - Buffy trying to remove Dawn and Xander from danger. At least this time she's asking Satsu to stay behind, rather than having her drugged and kidnapped to take her to safety, so she's learned from that mistake. :-)

Comparing it to Angel instead... hmm. I think the difference is that Buffy trusts Angel to take care of himself, so her motives there were not "stay out of danger" but rather "I need reassurance that someone competent will be there to pick up the ball if I drop it." Plus, possibly, a little bit of "It's my show and I don't want anyone else grabbing the glory." (Given that Buffy's usual reaction to anyone who's equally as powerful and charismatic as her is to either resent them and compete with them, or align herself with them to the exclusion of all the other people on her team, this is also progress for her...)

So it could be that Buffy actually wants someone she trusts in a back-up position... but I don't think so in this case. She's going into this battle thinking she's going to win it easily, not - as in 'Chosen' - worrying that they're all going to die.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 10th May 2008 21:27 (UTC)

We agree on much especially the effectiveness of the cliffhanger. I'm a little less sanguine about new black characters being inevitably disposable, if that's what we're seeing, but it really does depend on what happens next. If it were supposed to unambiguous that Renee had died they could have let the story go on past her as they did with Aiko and I also think the stabbing missed the heart. Still a close enough call that I've been reduced to working out the fate of the corresponding Samuri to the characters in the Jeanty cover for the next issue (Renee's lives but if they followed the Kurosawa the only other survivors would be Satsu and Dracula).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 10:11 (UTC)

It wouldn't be an effective cliffhanger if we knew for certain if she were dead or not. :-)

And a show called 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' featuring Satsu, Renee and Dracula would be... different.

Posted by: skipp_of_ark (skipp_of_ark)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 07:44 (UTC)

I've seen people complaining that this is just yet another iteration of "bad thing happens to one half of a couple just when things were starting to go good for them," and therefore hoping that Renee will be saved somehow in the next issue, as it would then be a meta-comment from Joss along the lines of "yes, I've gone down this road before, which is why I'm subverting my own MO." Of course, I find myself snickering a little that there were people who were still hoping that Renee/Xander would work out and she'd be the last word on Xander's love life.

One of the weirdest suggestions for how Renee could be saved, IMO, is that Dracula could vamp her. It seems the people offering this suggestion are so excited by the idea of a vampire slayer being turned into a vampire that they're failing to realize that the Jossverse rules for turning still apply and that Renee would still be dead; VampRenee would still be a demon inhabiting Renee's soulless corpse, and honestly, would Xander even want that? And I seriously doubt that Willow would try to restore Renee's soul to a VampRenee; she doesn't seem to have any Orbs of Thessulah handy, plus the only way she knows of doing, I assume, remains Angel's curse. Other than the Buffy/Vampire 'shippers who still want to "stick it" to Xander, who thinks Xander would want to get involved with a souled vampire with a happiness clause? (And no, the Xander/Angel 'shippers don't count.)

My initial thoughts about the last page were along the lines of, "Oh man, what will be the long-term effects on Xander this season and as a character? Will he crack, Wesley-style?" And so on. But then the cynical, been-burned-by-Joss-before side of me realized I was assuming that there would long-term effects on Xander and his characterization from this twist. I mean, assuming Renee is dead (yeah, I had much the same thoughts as you, and well, this IS a comic book), one would think this would HAVE to mean there'd be such an effect on Xander, right? But then I remembered that for Joss and ME, setting up what looks like an interesting long-term storyline for Xander or doing something terrible to him that would otherwise demand they explore his character, only to completely drop it or have no interest in how it affected Xander, has been a hallmark of their writing since Season Three or Four. (Faith? Losing his eye, anyone?)

There's an essay to be written about how events in Xander's love life have been used to parallel, contrast with, or comment on events in Buffy's romantic life, especially since Season Four, IMO, but that's probably for another time. As for the last panel in the next issue, possibilities range from Buffy being shaken up by what happens to Renee (and Xander) into deciding to pursue a relationship with Satsu, an open Buffy/Satsu kiss, Satsu deciding to distance herself from Buffy, Xander leaving, or (the one I hope absolutely doesn't happen) some kind of Xander/Dracula moment. I know the slash fans would squee themselves to death over it, but I remain convinced that the "Antique" story and Andrew's plainly bullshit story about how this was how Xander was mourning Anya are not remotely believable or convincing buildup for such a development. (Frankly, the one thing I agree with from the letter by Shawler is that Andrew is a worthless twit who not once has been useful or even funny.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 10:25 (UTC)

You know, I actually think a plotline where Xander is in love with a souled vampire would be interesting... you could draw all kinds of parallels to his attitude to Buffy and Angel in S1-3. I don't think the magic ritual element is too complex; Orbs of Thesulah don't seem that rare (people use them as paperweights...) and it would only mean restraining vamp!Renee until Willow could find one. (Or even getting one before she rose again.)

I'm less convinced that the Scoobies would even think of turning her as a solution. It would have to be either Dracula or Toru himself doing it off their own initiative.

Posted by: Forrest Walker (dunots)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 12:27 (UTC)
Illyria

Well, I can't say exactly how the next issue, so on will turn out, but my feeling is that the shape of the Satsu/Buffy arc is likely to look something like this:

Satsu is understandably shaken by these events. Buffy points and says "I told you so" re: lovedanger. Satsu doesn't care, destroying Buffy's emergency defense mechanism. Buffy, not necessarily attracted to women, at large, is badly in need of companionship and affection, and yes, even sex, breaks down and gives it a shot.

Prediction: cloudy with high chance of bitter irony-filled breakups along the line. But hey, in the meantime they get to have fun and loads of trepidation!

Or, more likely I am completely wrong and Satsu joins a Buddhist nunnery.

P.S. Your reviews are pretty interesting!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 12:56 (UTC)
satsu

Thanks! And yes, attempting to predict what will happen next is looking rather fraught at the moment. I do think Buffy and Satsu's relationship (whatever form it eventually takes) is going to be a major part of this season; they've spent too much time building it up for it to be for the sake of a one-off punchline.

Though Satsu ritually cutting off her hair would be a nice symbolic image. :-)

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 17:56 (UTC)

But I'm willing to bet that there's already a controversy brewing over two facts, namely 1) "How predictable, Joss killed off a character's love interest just as they were getting close."
Oh yes, I read the part and thought...yes, there is definitely going to be some fanwank over this.
I was a bit sorry to see her die, since she was one of the two original comic characters that were finally starting to show some personality.

By the common Joss-hates-happy-couples logic Satsu is pretty save though.

Loved your review and thank you especially for the latin translations, heh!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th May 2008 22:45 (UTC)

Nulla problema! :-)

(And *hee* to the Satsu being safe remark...)

Posted by: hobgoblinn (hobgoblinn)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 02:00 (UTC)

I read the last 4 issues at one go today (yes, I am a little behind-- I almost never get over to that side of town anymore, and certainly don't make special trips given the skyrocketing gas prices) and it's nice to be able to read your review instead of skipping over it. I want to know what happens next, too.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 16:27 (UTC)

Only another month to go :-( (Or possibly four months in your case...)

If you wanted to read my earlier reviews now, there's a link in the sidebar of my journal ("Season 8 Links")

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 03:05 (UTC)

Another great review from you. You always find interesting things to talk about -- though in this case, there really isn't all that much is there? I'm quite content to see how things wrap up, but after the exhilerating highs of 6-11, this arc has been remarkably dull. At least, it provokes no thoughts in my little brain, whereas after 10 I was positively possessed for days.

I'm gonna go with thinking Renee's story isn't over. First, she and Xander just aren't attatched enough yet to draw a beleivable parallel with Seeing Red. They just had their first kiss, and it's not like Xander has been mooning over her in a big way for the last 13 issues. So more interesting if morally dubious means are used to prevent her from dying. Also, there was a small tidbit a good while back in a Q&A with Scott Allie where he was asked about the last names of the slayers, and I believe he said that Renee's last name would prove to be significant. The most obvious way to go with that would be for it to be Molter. And finally, going with the "what would grief-stricken Xander do" line really is just repetitive. And I gotta think we'll get more than that. They don't have much time to set up new characters -- so why use one of the few they've developed in such an uninteresting way?

Though the Dawnzilla thing was lame enough to remind me that we can't just assume they know how to hit dramatic pay-offs well.

Thank you for pointing out how bad Willow's Latin is. You'd think they could e-mail a real Latinist for translations rather than using whatever cheap translation tool they are obviously using. But hey, how many people really care?

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 11:37 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing out how bad Willow's Latin is. You'd think they could e-mail a real Latinist for translations rather than using whatever cheap translation tool they are obviously using. But hey, how many people really care?

It's not just this comic sadly. Almost all shows I know couldn't care less when it comes to different langueges. Lost's Sayed is the perfect example.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 12:56 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 19:07 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 16:31 (UTC)

Posted by: Going through the motions (rowanda380)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 15:13 (UTC)

It's also nice to see that for all their recent quarrels Willow is still there to be supportive.

I thought so too. I mean, one of my favorite things about the show was how good of friends they all were, loyal to the end...I would hate if they messed with that too much.

"Hi. Or, I mean... roar?" has to be one of the best lines of the season. Although Dawn's cameo appearance did seem a bit of a let-down after all the build-up it's had.
Defintely one of the best lines of the 8th seasoon, what about the appearence was a let down for you?

Killing one very new character in a particularly brutal fashion was bad enough, but now they've killed one of the most sympathetic and interesting of the Season 8 characters, who's been built up over 13 episodes just for this. In other words, I'm not ready to completely write her off as dead and not coming back until we've seen the next issue. I'm inclined to think she is dead, mind you, but we'll see.
I hope she isn't dead. I can see them trying to get Renee and Satsu out of the way so that they can bring back the potentials. But as you said, we were just starting to get to know and like her...and poor Xander.

(2) "How predictable, the black woman was the one who got killed." Am I right? There's probably also a conspiracy theory getting started that Drew killed off Renee to clear the path for a Xander/Dracula romance. Or possibly Buffy/Xander, as they comfort each other over their loss(es).
I hadn't heard any contriversy about race yet...hadn't even thought about it...hm. As for clearing the way for romance...I hope it isn't Xander Dracula because...well...we already have one ambigious Andrew..and I have no issues with gayness but...gay willow, bi buffy, ambigious Andrew...so we really need a gay xander dracula too? I have thought since the begining that there was a possible Xander Buffy hook up in the makings here...though...it may just be a tease.

Thanks for the review!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th May 2008 16:37 (UTC)
buffy-willow

I'm probably too sentimental, but I like to see the friends just, y'know, being friends.

what about the appearence was a let down for you?

It was really short - two panels (plus the background of a third) is not even a full page, and in the scene of her rampaging through the street, she wasn't actually doing anything different to what she was doing on the front cover. So nothing new, no character insights, just one decent line of dialogue.

I'm still hoping that next issue she'll climb the skyscraper to destroy the big disk, King Kong-style, though...


Thanks!

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 13th May 2008 09:01 (UTC)

I liked the comic. For the most part.

Still not sure they've gone for the old Whedon pony trick, seems too early, Renee isn't important enough.

And I find myself in the strange position of not being happy they've killed Renee off, but very much disliking the thought of them pulling a "magic" fix for it.

Let's see what the future brings.

Posted by: softlikebutter (softlikebutter)
Posted at: 15th May 2008 19:32 (UTC)

Great review, as usual.

Call me an optimist but I'm on the 'Renee's not dead' camp. I could be eating my words in a month's time when #15 comes out, but the last panel somehow reminded me of the episode where Cordelia got impaled on some random metal pole back in Lovers Walk. And to screw with everyone's minds, they showed that funeral scene immediately after, before finally revealing that Cordy was fine.

And if anything, I've learnt from Joss that Buffyverse characters aren't truly dead until he says they're dead, re: Warren.

I'm not so sure about the theory about black characters getting killed off first though. Maybe it's the new comic medium that I'm still getting used to, but as much as Renee is depicted with darker skin, I never really considered her a 'black' character, and she's always been just the cool, smart, and geeky slayer that Xander's into.

Gosh, the next issue is gonna be a terribly long wait...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th May 2008 20:37 (UTC)

When it comes down to it, I suppose it should be a matter of 'what makes the best story'.

Xander overcome with grief, doing something stupid? Going through Renee's effects after her death uncovers something that shows she's the mole? Satsu decides to leave Buffy because she wants to avoid Renee's fate? An 'Empty Places' style revolt against Buffy's leadership?

Or if she lives:

Dracula saves her, causing all sorts of complicated emotional scenes between him and Xander? Willow has to choose between using her magic to save Renee or defeating Toru? A Slayer being stabbed with the Scythe causes a weird magical chain reaction? Renee will live if she's still a Slayer, but not if the vampires manage to deactivate all the Slayers, so the race against time has a personal element?

Thanks!

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