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StephenT [userpic]

(Review) BtVS 8.19 'Time Of Your Life' Part 4

27th November 2008 (21:15)

Some of you may remember that there used to be a monthly comic called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8". That was almost a quarter of a year ago. But now, they've actually printed another issue! \o/ So was it worth waiting for?

I have to say, I had to read the rest of the 'Time Of Your Life' arc through again, to remind myself what had happened, before writing this review.


Knowing how the story ends, it's quite powerful to see how Willow has carefully manipulated everyone - including her own past self, Saga Vasuki, Buffy, the Fray sisters and Harth - to reach her desired goal. Which is her own death at Buffy's hands. Why did she do it? I've got my theories, which I'll go into at the end. For the moment, let's just say that her monologue at the start is very touching. Visually, this is Dark Willow, and by her own admission she's no longer quite human... but she's not evil, just deeply sad and lonely and withdrawn. Yet there's still a faint memory in there of the old Willow, who was nerdy and naively romantic and loved her schoolwork.

I enjoyed the little homage to Sellars and Yeatman and the most memorable history book ever written. :-)

As for Buffy's reaction to seeing her best friend again, it's classic BtVS dialogue. She starts out with "oh my God!" as if she's utterly horrified... then immediately undercuts it in classic Jossian fashion, scolding Willow for going dark as if she were an eight-year old. Then she remembers that the last time Willow went evil it was because of Tara's death, and she's immediately full of concern about Kennedy. Willow's reply, and the bitter loneliness it conveys in a few simple words, is horrifying.

Then we get the face-off with Harth, and the reveal that Willow has been manipulating everyone by lying to them, in order to engineer the confrontation. "Yes, well, I'm dark that way." And meanwhile, the demon monkey Gates is secretly freeing Buffy. Why? One theory is that he just likes Slayers - any Slayer - and doesn't want Buffy to be tied up. The other is that it's all part of Willow's plan, and she asked him to free Buffy at the crucial moment in order to provoke a fight between her and Mel.

Willow's line here is crucial to the story, although at first it's a misdirect. "The most important thing about death isn't who dies... it's who kills them." Both Buffy and Mel assume at first that she means she wants them to fight each other, for her amusement. They're wrong.

Harth's "solution" to the problem is just classic vampire logic. Kill them all and don't bother sorting them out. And then comes the big reveal from the cliffhanger last issue. Turns out Gunther didn't die after all... (yay!) and now he's back, and he's pissed. And he's got a squadron of grav tanks, apparently. :-)  The implication is that Willow orchestrated all of this... she's certainly not surprised when Gunther and his men turn up. Was Harth now a liability, or did Willow plan to have him and his army destroyed all along when she had no further need of him?

We don't actually see Harth die, mind you - he's diving for cover in his last frame - so I'm sure he'll be available as a villain in future 'Fray' comics. And I loved Gunther's substitution of "my surf" instead of "my turf."

We see a little more of Buffy's worrying slide into solipsism (as featured in previous issues of this arc). She still believes she's doing the right thing, saving the world, but she cares less and less about other people while she does it. "I don't care about your world. I have to save mine." And she clearly resented being referred to as "Puffy" in the last issue. :-)

As Buffy makes her dramatic exit, Willow tells her she's "not done here."  (Is Buffy breaking through a wall - my first assumption - or has Willow used magic on her to make her fall?) Incidentally, because the last speech bubble has no "tail" to it, I'm guessing that symbolises that Willow is speaking telepathically to Buffy. The story now cuts away to Xander and Dawn and when we next see Buffy she's alone again and on the roof. I assume that in the intervening time, Willow told Buffy where the temporal rift would open again and what she would have to do there - that's the only way to make sense of their conversation during their final meeting.

So - back to Scotland, which apparently now resembles something from a Pixar movie, or maybe Monty Python with better CGI.

Xander is doing what he does best: making funny comments in the face of certain death, and also teasing Dawn, who gives as good as she gets. I liked his reference to the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief, although he missed out "depression" and got "denial" and "anger" the wrong way round. (It's worth remembering that Xander himself is currently in mourning.)

Incidentally, he's holding a tiny dagger while Dawn holds a huge two-handed sword that must be about six feet long. Possible phallic symbolism aside, I'm guessing that to be able to even lift that thing Dawn must now be, um, as strong as a horse.

Rowena redeems herself for her emotional meltdown a couple of issues ago, and leads her Slayers to the rescue. Out of the original four newbie Slayers introduced in 8.01, Satsu has already established herself pretty firmly as a major player, Renee did too until she died, and Leah is mostly notable for her sarcastic comments and big hair. Now Rowena has done something important and heroic, and I'm thinking it's Leah's turn to step up. Mind you, Leah was wounded and having to be carried two issues ago, and now she's shown (in long shot) right in the thick of this battle, so she's not doing too badly. Slayer rapid healing powers for the win, evidently.

And we're back to Buffy - presumably, as I said, having just had an interesting conversation with Willow. She's also apparently managed to lose her fear of heights thanks to all the jumping around on flying cars she's been doing in the past few days. I liked the little touch that she's using the Scythe to hack out hand- and foot-holds in the wall of the building so she can climb up it. (And, memo for future fic-writers: the Scythe can clearly cut holes in solid brickwork even when Buffy is swinging it one-handed over her head while clinging precariously to the side of a building hundreds of feet above the ground.)

Then we get the big face-off. Slayer versus Slayer, each fighting for the fate of her world. It's a huge, epic fight, easily as dramatic as Buffy versus Faith in 'Graduation Day 1'. Melaka is convinced that if Buffy returns to her own time, her foreknowledge will change the past and so Mel will never have existed. Buffy wants to return home so she can save her own world and her finest creation, the Slayer Army.

And Willow watches them fight. Note that she's biting her bottom lip as she says "So close..." - which is exactly what she was doing as Kennedy brought her to orgasm so she could visit Saga Vasuki in the previous issue. I think, though, that this version of Willow hasn't been capable of anything so uncontrolled and wild and connected to another person as making love for a long, long time.

Though I do wonder if Willow is actually reaching out through time and contacting Saga Vasuki as she says "So close..."? So she can give her the vision of New York in flames and the Scythe, which SV will then give to Willow's on past self and start this whole thing rolling...

I liked the contrasting inner dialogues of Buffy and Melaka as they fight. Interesting that Mel is apparently stronger than Buffy - and Mel refers to Buffy as "tiny, whiney". The artist hasn't been consistent about drawing them to scale with each other (I checked) but I'm assuming this is supposed to mean that Mel is taller and stronger than Buffy. She's also more determined, which of course in the Buffyverse always makes you a better fighter. 

Buffy, on the other hand, has apparently "dreamed every battle a Slayer's ever fought". That's been hinted at before in the series, more so in the movie (and more to the point, the comics adaptation of it which Joss accepts as canon, unlike the movie itself) and the comics and even on 'Angel' (with Dana in 'Damage') rather than on the 'Buffy' TV show itself. Now, though, it's stated in black and white.

Both Slayers get to make some cool moves in the fight. Buffy, as ever, makes clever use of the environment by using her Scythe to slice open the water pipe and knock Mel off the roof. Mel, in turn, shows off her superior athletic skills by hooking her own Scythe into the car and using her momentum to swing back up onto the roof.

Mount Walmore = Mount Rushmore, now owned and re-branded by Wal-mart??

And then the little interlude with Twilight and his posse which has apparently caused much kerfuffle. Looks like Amy and Warren's plan was much less successful than they'd hoped, but since Twilight didn't expect much of it anyway he's not bothered. I can't be sure from just reading the dialogue without hearing the tone of voice, but I think their argument here is an actual, serious fight rather than a playful pretend-squabble like the one Willow and Kennedy were having in the earlier issue (with all that "Didn't miss you." "Who are you again?" interchange). Does Amy actually think of Warren as her love-slave, then? Ew.

One criticism of the Warren/Amy relationship I've heard occasionally is that "he's a misogynist, so why does he have a girlfriend?" Here we see some of his misogyny surfacing again ("self-actualizing womyn-jargon", "a robot you with no mouth"); but we have to remember that while he has little respect for women on the whole, Warren still enjoys their company. And he has other reasons to respect Amy despite her femaleness, like the fact that she saved his life (and can end it again with five little words.) As for what Amy herself gets out of it... who knows? She's clearly stark raving mad, but then that was obvious from the start of the season.

Oh yeah, we get the other big reveal of the issue: Buffy's secret meeting in New York was with Riley, and Riley is on Twilight's side. Ooooh. I'd act surprised, but there have been so many people speculating that he was Twilight for so long that the only big surprise here is that actually, he isn't Twilight himself but just his ally. (Although I actually wasn't one of the people saying Twilight was Riley, incidentally, only because it seemed too much like pandering to the Rileyphobes).

Of course, there are a lot of unanswered questions here all the same.

I'm guessing Buffy got in touch with Riley after the encounter with General Voll, to ask him if he knew anything about this secret demon-fighting organisation within the US army. Riley, evidently, claimed he did and that he could feed Buffy information on them. In fact, he's a double-agent and keeping Twilight informed. This certainly helps to explain how Twilight knows so much about Buffy's personality and even her fighting style.

What's Riley's motivation? We don't know. I'm guessing it could be any one of:

1) Embittered by Sam's death at the hands of a demon, he's grown to hate the entire world of magic and the supernatural. Twilight's promise to end it all would fall on fertile soil. Twilight may even have promised Riley that he won't kill Buffy, just remove her Slayer powers... and I'm sure a deep, dark part of Riley would welcome that.

2) Somehow, Twilight has brainwashed Riley. It wouldn't be the first time someone did that to him - and we don't know how Twilight has otherwise managed to amass such a huge and disparate powerbase.

3) Riley isn't a double agent - he's a triple agent. His dialogue sounded a bit "off" to me here; more like what one of the other Initiative soldiers like Forrest or Graham would have said about Buffy rather than his own words. Maybe he's playing a role? (Or maybe Joss has just forgotten how to do his voice...)

Still, I'm quite sure this isn't the last we'll hear of this plotline.

Back to the main plot. Kennedy only gets two brief appearances in this issue and both of them are adorable. I loved her immediate connection between blindfolding Willow and a knife-thrower's act.Willow, meanwhile, has clearly decided to heed Saga Vasuki's warning about not looking through the portal. She's also apparently still true enough to her Jewish heritage to celebrate Hannukah even though she's now a Wiccan.

And the final fight. One thing I'm still not clear on is how exactly Buffy managed to shatter Melaka's Scythe with her bare fist. My best guess is that it had something to do with the portal opening and the two timelines merging. While two possible worlds existed together, there could also be two Scythes; but with the time portal open, there could be only one. (Or possibly, the reference I'm looking for here is "Saruman, your Scythe is broken.")

Then Willow appears and tells Buffy that the only way she will get through the portal is through her. In other words, Buffy has to kill Willow. And Buffy knows that Willow has engineered this whole thing to lead up to this. Why? She doesn't explain.

 "The most important thing about death isn't who dies... it's who kills them."

Buffy has to kill her best friend with her own hands. That's going to stay with her forever. I think Willow has been waiting for her death for almost two centuries now, and she accepts it. It's not her dying that's important; what's important is that it's Buffy who kills her.

And Buffy, who once stabbed Angel through the heart, now does the same thing to Willow. We see the first tear starting to form in her eye, as the veins fade away from Willow's face and her eyes turn hazel again for a moment before she dies. There's also a massive discharge of energy... what does it do? My suspicion is that this is the cause of the temporal disturbance that caused the whole problem in the first place... 21st century Willow persuaded Buffy to come to New York to investigate, unknowingly, her own death there in 200 years' time.

Incidentally, Willow says "20th century" in her speech to Buffy here. Either this is a mistake by the writer, or it's a sign that after two hundred years of solitude Willow has lost track of the years... or it's a subtle clue that this version of Willow actually belongs to a different timeline in which Sunnydale blew up in 1999 instead of 2003...

And we have two happy endings. Buffy, in floods of tears after killing Willow, clings desperately to the living younger version of her best friend. And Kennedy gets her second cute line of the episode as she warns them not to get any ideas. :-)  (I note that the arc ended with Willow and Kennedy still together, despite earlier speculation that they would quarrel over Saga Vasuki and split up. Still, it may yet happen.)

Meanwhile, Mel and Erin both still exist... although presumably Mel's Scythe is now gone. (Unless it re-forms in their dimension once Buffy has gone, or they repair it somehow). For them, it's a happy ending - or at least they're back to normal. Notice how Erin's comment, the last line of the arc, is "Means it's a good day" - a deliberate mirror of the first line of the arc (and the Fray comic itself before that), which was "Bad day. Started out bad, stayed that way."

I'm guessing - especially from the fade-to white which then fades back into colour - that the Frayverse is now a parallel dimension rather than the actual future of the Buffyverse. But I'm not holding my breath for that to be clarified in writing anywhere. :-)

***

So what was Willow's plan?

From what I can see, the timeline is roughly like this:

  • All magic and demons are banished from the world. Willow survives, although her power is seriously limited. (Or possibly, she puts all her power into staying alive).
  • Willow lives on for 200 years, seeing the deaths of everyone she loves. She becomes known as the "madwoman", and ceases to be fully human.
  • Willow allies with Harth, the vampire leader. She recruits his help to open the time portal and bring Buffy through to the future.
  • She hires a demon to attack Melaka and so make sure she's at the right place at the right time when the portal opens.
  • The portal opens; Buffy and the demon exchange places in time. Buffy and Melaka confront each other.
  • Willow sends a vision back through time to Saga Vasuki, showing New York in flames with the Scythe hovering in front of it. She asks SV to pass this vision on to her past self, but not tell her where it comes from. She also asks SV to warn her past self not to look into the future.
  • Buffy suffers future shock, and is traumatised by seeing how badly the future turns out - vampires running rampant, only one lone Slayer again, crime and poverty everywhere.
  • (Back in 21st century New York) Willow interrogates the demon, talks to Saga Vasuki, and works out how to bring Buffy back through the portal.
  • Having no further use for Harth, Willow engineers a conflict between him and Gunther and wipes out the vampire army.
  • Meanwhile, Willow convinces Mel that she has to fight Buffy or Buffy will change the past and wipe her out of existence.
  • The two Slayers fight, and Buffy wins and breaks Melaka's Scythe.
  • Willow now confronts Buffy herself, and forces Buffy to kill her with the Scythe.
  • Buffy, helped by past-Willow, returns to the 21st century, carrying with her the trauma of having just killed her best friend.

Why did Willow do it? It's possible we'll never know, that this will be a plot-element left hanging. Or it might be that this is the overriding driving force of the entire second half of the season.

What I think, though, is this:

In 'Anywhere But Here', Buffy and Willow learned that Twilight's plan is to end all magic and all demons... which would also put an end to Willow's power. She didn't look particularly happy at that idea, but their demonic informant implied that it was Buffy's life goal. That immediately sets up a possible conflict between the two of them.

My speculation is that Buffy will eventually decide to let Twilight win. She comes to agree with his aims, that ending the supernatural will be a good thing for the world. Willow disagrees, and they end up on opposite sides in the war. Willow's side loses, and the Buffy-Twilight Alliance wins.

When the magic ends, Willow somehow manages to survive and retain some of her power. She has a long-term plan to reverse everything, to change the past so it never happened that way.

So, she engineers things to bring Buffy to the future. She confronts Buffy with just how horrible the world will be after two centuries with no Slayer,  if the supernatural does return eventually anyway. (And maybe it was Willow that did that, too? The original 'Fray' comic never said how the demons managed to return.) She sets Buffy and Melaka to fighting, to emphasise the lesson.

And finally, she ensures that Buffy will have to live with the memory of killing Willow with her own two hands.

What will Buffy be like when she returns to the 21st century? We've already seen part of it; she's clinging to Willow, tearfully babbling about how much she loves her. This Buffy will definitely think twice now before she lets herself get estranged from Willow in the future. And she's seen how bad a future without magic and Slayers would be... so she'll definitely not be inclined to listen to Twilight's plan to banish all the demons.

Buffy will now fight Twilight to her last breath alongside Willow, rather than going over to his point of view and opposing her former-best-friend. The world will stay supernatural, Fray is now an alternate universe, and Future!Willow has successfully changed history and, by her death, deleted her entire timeline from existence.

I wonder if Buffy will explain to Willow now what she had to do?
 

Comments

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 22:04 (UTC)

Interesting review, great food for thought. I have the impression that both scythes disappeared at the same time - but I may be wrong.

she asked Gates to free Buffy at the crucial moment in order to provoke a fight between her and Mel.

I still can't understand if Gates is an intelligent species or, you know, just a monkey

the Scythe can clearly cut holes in solid brickwork

... while Gigi's axe could cut marble :)

Or maybe Joss has just forgotten how to do his voice...

He definitely forgotten Willow's. Her attitude to history was quite different in, say, Pangs. OTOH, after two centuries she could change a lot...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 22:57 (UTC)

I have the impression that both scythes disappeared at the same time

Buffy breaks Melaka's Scythe and punches her to the ground - Mel is holding the shattered haft of her Scythe. Then there's the final confrontation with Willow.

Buffy actually kills Willow with her Scythe. She's still holding it when the other Willow reaches out of the portal to grab her.

We don't see the Scythe back in the present day scene, but it's possible it's lying on the ground just off the edge of the picture.


I still can't understand if Gates is an intelligent species or, you know, just a monkey

He manages to pick the lock on Buffy's chains, which is a bit more than I'd expect an animal to be capable of. And his phrases like "Mek mek! Mekrin-sippah!" sound like language rather than animal noises. I think he's maybe not as intelligent as a human, but more than just an animal.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 23:05 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 12:02 (UTC)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 10:36 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 10:44 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 13:59 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:40 (UTC)

Posted by: fangfaceandrea (fangfaceandrea)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 22:10 (UTC)
delighted

huh, not only did i like your theory but I'm amazed at how you actually made sense of the whole thing, specially seeing that I have no theories of my own, I'm a big mass of What?!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 22:58 (UTC)

It took several read-throughs to really understand it, but writing it all down helped me get it all clearer in my own head too. :-)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 22:13 (UTC)

(I note that the arc ended with Willow and Kennedy still together, despite earlier speculation that they would quarrel over Saga Vasuki and split up. Still, it may yet happen.)

I still think Kennedy knows exactly what's up with Saga Vasuki and is OK with it (and maybe a little proud, it's her who can get Willow to that other place).

Incidentally, Willow says "20th century" in her speech to Buffy here. Either this is a mistake by the writer, or it's a sign that after two hundred years of solitude Willow has lost track of the years...

Or it's a sign that "21st century" still hasn't sunk in. (At least for the writers) I catch myself doing the 20th century thing. (But I'm older than Willow and 21st century always meant the far away future for me.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 23:02 (UTC)
willow-snake

Oh, I agree that Kennedy knows that Willow can get in touch with her magical contact by having an orgasm, and thinks this is one magical ritual she's very happy to help Willow out with. I don't, however, think she knows that Saga Vasuki is female, attractive and very sensual, and I do think she'd be jealous if she found out.

Posted by: satsux (satsux)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 23:10 (UTC)

I like your theory and your review, as always, but I'm not fully convinced that Dark Willow's plot had anything to do with changing the future, since I don't think that Fray's an alternative future, but still the Buffyverse's future. And I think it not changing, meant that it won't matter, a line we were continually submitted to on Angel. Which may for all intends in purposes be its own Alternative Universe now, but in reality there's still the same verse.

I think that Willow will end up like that after whatever happens in season 8 or perhabs 9 and it's just something that's meant to freak Buffy into thinking she might lose. Also, it's too early to say it won't end like that, since we don't know why Fray's world came to be in the first place. 200 year gap and Buffy may not be the last slayer that stood. There's too many vague references. Hell, this vision of the future could be why Willow was the one that will betray Buffy. It will make her weak and too worried about consequences to make the right choices. I mean, what better way to scar a leader than have them think a possible future created by their choices will come to where she's force to kill her best friend?

it's all too early, so we might not even know for a while, what true effect if any Buffy's actions will have on altering Fray's future. Sicne really, Willow was just lying to everyone. Maybe she was cursed with living till dying on the hands of Buffy. lots of possible reasons for this story, probably not going to get any answers.

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 27th November 2008 23:48 (UTC)
[buffy] willow | the dark inside of me

I haven't read Fray in a while, but I do remember that they said the last slayer, "with help from magical allies," destroyed the existence of the supernatural. This always seemed weird to me, because I had always assumed that the last slayer was Buffy, and that one of her magical allies would be Willow -- but why would Willow be okay without magic? I can't see Willow being okay with it, but I also can't see her starting a war against Buffy (unless she goes Dark, in which case I could).

In any case, what I'm really curious is why Willow was not allowed to see the future. Would it be because she would see herself being killed by Buffy (and thus cause a rift between them)? Would it be because by seeing her possible future self she would fulfill that destiny? Or maybe future!Willow just wanted to spare present!Willow the burden of knowing what she was to become? Ah, it's really too complicated to say, I think, and although I really want to know, I doubt we'll ever find out. :|

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 00:56 (UTC)
willow-nothingonearth

why Willow was not allowed to see the future

I think any of your reasons could be the right one. Personally, I think Future!Willow deliberately set up that scene to be as traumatic as possible for Buffy, and didn't want her own past self to be traumatised too. Plus, if her aim was to manipulate Buffy into staying on good terms with Willow, then showing Present!Willow a vision of Buffy killing her in cold blood would have the opposite effect, and make Present!Willow scared to be around Buffy...

I can imagine circumstances in which Willow would end up on the opposite side to Buffy in a war, if she really, honestly believed in her heart that she was right and Buffy was wrong. I think she'd really, really hate it; I think it would come close to destroying her as a person. In fact, I could argue that Future!Willow in this comic arc is pretty much how Willow would look after she was forced to turn against Buffy: completely empty and no longer caring. But she'd do it. Willow can be ruthless when she needs to be; and she doesn't have Buffy's knack for always finding the get-out clause and twisting the rules.

Posted by: filmtx (filmtx)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 02:08 (UTC)
bffangst

Awesome post. This story arc makes much more sense now. I still have a ton of questions, but at least I have an idea of how this little trip to Frayverse relates to the current Buffyverse. Thank you.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 18:56 (UTC)

Glad to help. :-) (I noticed in a recent Q&A Scott Allie saying that we're not supposed to understand everything just yet...)

Posted by: filmtx (filmtx)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 22:20 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 09:31 (UTC)

Your scenario is plausible. Still I’m not convinced Future Willow was quite as in control of events as you have her:-


  • It’s not clear that the blindfold was Future Willow’s instructions or Saga Vasuki’s own idea once she realized she’d been played. If Future Willow hoped to alert her past self about what's to become of her then she's been thwarted.

  • Future Willow, even at the end, seems to believe that she needs to manipulate Buffy into killing her by persuading her that she really does think the past would be better off if she (Buffy) doesn’t go back. Buffy , however, sees through that ruse. If Future Willow was aiming for a particular psychological reaction (eg guilt) to drive Buffy’s actions on her return she may have miscalculated.

  • Gunther’s calvary act was precipitated by Harth’s attack on him, which in turn was in reaction to Gunther passing information on to Melaka and Buffy about the uppers. I can see Willow being aware of thse events but none of them specifically require her intervention Harth and Gunther as rival gang bosses were bound to come into conflict sooner or later.


I very much agree about Riley and on reading Fray’s comment about when there was only one world as hinting at the possibility of two parallel timelines being created rather than one Slayer being the natural order of things.


We see a little more of Buffy's worrying slide into solipsism (as featured in previous issues of this arc). She still believes she's doing the right thing, saving the world, but she cares less and less about other people while she does it. "I don't care about your world. I have to save mine."

Is this any more solipsistic than Melaka not being concerned about Buffy’s world? I’m not saying that there aren’t problems with Buffy’s focus on her Slayers but I don’t see this as an example of that. Here she seems perfectly aware that she’s choosing between her world and Fray’s but in the situation where you can’t have both (unless you can).


I assume that in the intervening time, Willow told Buffy where the temporal rift would open again and what she would have to do there - that's the only way to make sense of their conversation during their final meeting.

Willow give away the time and place Buffy needs to get to in her conversation with Melaka when, in response to the “It’s who kills who that’s important” Fray re-iterates that she won’t kill a Slayer.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:12 (UTC)

Still I’m not convinced Future Willow was quite as in control of events as you have her

Perhaps you're right... although that leaves me baffled as to why Future!Willow wanted Present!Willow to see herself being killed in cold blood by Buffy... Unless F!W just didn't care, and it was Saga Vasuki's own idea to add that part.

When F!W says "Maybe I think..." I got the impression she's not really expecting Buffy to believe her, but she's giving it a go. And I took Buffy's "You dragged me her and then told me exactly how to get out" implies, to me at least, that Willow actually said, explicitly, "The portal will only open if you kill me with the Scythe."

in the situation where you can’t have both (unless you can).

Sure. But having her cake and still finding a way to eat it too is practically Buffy's signature. Here, she doesn't even bother to try.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 20:53 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 10:38 (UTC)
Willow - playing god by bogwitch

I read your post with great interest. Then I read this one, which comes up with a theory pretty much the exact opposite to yours for Willow's motives. I'm afraid I like the other one better, since your Willow comes across as a somewhat petulant brat - 'I want to keep my magic, I do, I do! I'm speshul!' I just want to tell her to get over it already and learn to live like a normal person. She coped just fine in S6! Sorry.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 11:41 (UTC)

Stephen - regarding that all white panel, what if it's merely used for dramatic purposes. To make the audience think that Fray's reality had vanished, changed or been altered. Then we discover they're "still here" and it's "a good day." Cue a great big sigh as Mel and Erin embrace.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 13:42 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 13:59 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 13:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 13:59 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:21 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:24 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:56 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 20:16 (UTC)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 14:45 (UTC)

I feel brain dead, and very glad I have your insightful comments on these matters.

I'll reserve judgment until the season is over as to how well this all works as a big-picture arc. So far we've had plenty of great moments, but there haven't been that many great issues (individual episodes). And the flaws feel a lot like S7 -- too many ideas, not enough time spent fleshing out the little details in everyone's relationships. I still think the time jump forward from 7 to 8 was a misstep that furthered an emotional disconnect between characters and audience. At least in my case :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 19:18 (UTC)

I think it's undeniable that it was a misstep from a practical perspective, because so many people have complained about it. I'm less convinced it was artistically wrong. Brian Lynch tried the opposite approach in 'After The Fall', starting every issue with a step-by-step exposition of everything that had just happened to get them to that point; and to me it fell flat because there was no mystery. Noting to intrigue the readers or get them discussing and arguing.

You know what S8 reminds me of? The title credits to 'Alien'. A blank screen, then a few random dots appear, then lines start to connect the dots, then more lines appear... and you suddenly realise that there are letters forming in front of you. Gradually the missing pieces are all filled in and you can read the title in full.

Then a Xenomorph bites your head off.

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 28th November 2008 21:25 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 6th December 2008 06:06 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th December 2008 20:55 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 6th December 2008 21:23 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 29th November 2008 00:17 (UTC)

Great review as always!

Mel refers to Buffy as "tiny, whiney"

..."wibbly wobbly." :-)

(Or possibly, the reference I'm looking for here is "Saruman, your Scythe is broken.")

I flashed back to Army of Darkness on that one. "Good... bad... I'm the guy with the gun."

Notice how Erin's comment, the last line of the arc, is "Means it's a good day" - a deliberate mirror of the first line of the arc

I believe it was Bob Dylan who said "any day above ground is a good day." And it is a good scene - echoing Mal's line at the end of "Serenity" (the episode): "We're still flying. It's enough." Fray and Erin aren't too used to winning; at least they didn't lose.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th November 2008 12:15 (UTC)

at least they didn't lose

Hopefully Mel's Scythe will re-form, or be repairable, or whatever. But yeah, she saved her world.

Thanks!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 13th January 2009 22:13 (UTC)
Alternate Universe?

So is it just speculation that Fray's world is now alternate, or is it solid? I didn't quite understand the whole fazing out thing. I thought it was just Willow dying.

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 8th July 2011 18:31 (UTC)
(Review) BtVS 8.19 'Time Of Your Life' Part 4

These last 4 reviews make me nostalgic about this arc. It was a "crossover" with Fray! And as a standalone arc "Time of Your Life" works well. But reading it again with the knowledge how season 8 ends, makes me sad.

Knowing how the story ends, it's quite powerful to see how Willow has carefully manipulated everyone - including her own past self, Saga Vasuki, Buffy, the Fray sisters and Harth - to reach her desired goal. Which is her own death at Buffy's hands. Why did she do it? I've got my theories, which I'll go into at the end.

And it seems that's all it was. Suicide by proxy.

We see a little more of Buffy's worrying slide into solipsism (as featured in previous issues of this arc). She still believes she's doing the right thing, saving the world, but she cares less and less about other people while she does it. "I don't care about your world. I have to save mine." And she clearly resented being referred to as "Puffy" in the last issue. :-)

Hmm, that's one way to interpret it. I think it's less extreme than you say. Her conversation with Melaka:
MELAKA: CAN YOU SWEAR MY WORLD WON'T MIST OUT IF YOU LEAVE?
MELAKA: MY BEST BONDS? MY SISTER?
BUFFY: YOU KNOW I CAN'T.
MELAKA: THE BIG PICTURE.
BUFFY: IT'S CALLED THE FATE OF THE WORLD, SHORT VIEW.
MELAKA: "FATE OF THE WORLD." MADE SENSE...WHEN THERE WAS ONLY ONE.
captures the problem nicely. Buffy just refuses to believe that returning home is a "bad thing". Can't say I blame her for that.

Incidentally, he's holding a tiny dagger while Dawn holds a huge two-handed sword that must be about six feet long. Possible phallic symbolism aside, I'm guessing that to be able to even lift that thing Dawn must now be, um, as strong as a horse.

About that. Giant Dawn was *not* proportionally stronger. I think the only way to interpret this is to say that Giant Dawn was stronger, just not as strong as a real giant should be. Similarly, Centaur Dawn is stronger --- hence the two handed long sword --- but not as strong as a real centaur. You only have to butcher the mathematical concept of proportionality for it, which seems fairly common.

Buffy, on the other hand, has apparently "dreamed every battle a Slayer's ever fought". That's been hinted at before in the series, more so in the movie (and more to the point, the comics adaptation of it which Joss accepts as canon, unlike the movie itself) and the comics and even on 'Angel' (with Dana in 'Damage') rather than on the 'Buffy' TV show itself. Now, though, it's stated in black and white.

LOL
For 7 years the dreams of a slayer had primarily prophetic meaning. But suddenly she has dreamed about every battle a slayer has ever thought. That gives new meaning to the Buffy-Spike relationship doesn't it? And it gives the Buffy-Angel relation also new meaning. *sigh*

(continues)

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 8th July 2011 19:13 (UTC)
Re: (Review) BtVS 8.19 'Time Of Your Life' Part 4

(continues)

Oh yeah, we get the other big reveal of the issue: Buffy's secret meeting in New York was with Riley, and Riley is on Twilight's side.

Which is why I loved Riley's comment about the way she dressed. Is she missing the sex so soon already?

I'm guessing - especially from the fade-to white which then fades back into colour - that the Frayverse is now a parallel dimension rather than the actual future of the Buffyverse. But I'm not holding my breath for that to be clarified in writing anywhere. :-)

I wish. It seems pretty clear now that the Fray-verse is the future of the Buffy-verse. And that has nasty implications for the whole season 8. Consider the timeline you wrote. Willow lives on for 200 years ---in a world without magic--- and brings Buffy to the future to...essentially help Twilight get rid of Buffy's moral certainty and therefore helps bring about the End of Magic. It's tragic that the Willow in issue 40 ---who is distraught by the end of magic--- will go mad and help bring about the age of magic after living for 200 years.

What will Buffy be like when she returns to the 21st century? We've already seen part of it; she's clinging to Willow, tearfully babbling about how much she loves her. This Buffy will definitely think twice now before she lets herself get estranged from Willow in the future. And she's seen how bad a future without magic and Slayers would be... so she'll definitely not be inclined to listen to Twilight's plan to banish all the demons.

And doesn't *that* put a whole new light on the scene where Buffy smashes the Seed of Wonder. Does this mean that Sephrilian was right all along?

As I read that passage again, I can't help notice that the phrase "The Death of Magic" is on a panel of its own, suggesting a pause. It seems that the demon is saying that Buffy's life goal is: "The end, of course. Of the struggle, of the Hellmouths...The final triumph of the base humans over the demons." And then the demon adds: "The Death of Magic". And Buffy refuses to believe that magic is included in her life goal, because for her it doesn't. Buffy sees the end of the struggle separate from magic, while Sephrilian warns her that they're *not* separate. And in her grief (and anger) she does the one thing she was sure she wouldn't do.

Yikes, I'm suddenly making sense of the Seed of Wonder smashing. And it's the betrayal that you've been talking about. Sacrificing magic to achieve her life goal. But *that* doesn't put Buffy in a good light, because looking at the wood folk and the fairies and other magical beings... Is the only reason we're seeing these magical creatures...to make a point? So we know that Buffy has created an extinction level event that will destroy all magical lifeforms!?!

Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. I'm not sure if what I concluded is brilliant story telling, or the destruction of the Buffyverse by virtue of destroying Buffy-the-hero.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th July 2011 01:03 (UTC)
Re: (Review) BtVS 8.19 'Time Of Your Life' Part 4

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th July 2011 00:58 (UTC)
Re: (Review) BtVS 8.19 'Time Of Your Life' Part 4

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