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(Review) BtVS 8.21 'Harmonic Divergence'

8th January 2009 (20:23)

The thing about changing the world: once you do it, the world's all different. Appropriately enough for a 'Buffy' episode that brings such a crucial plot twist, it was written by Jane Espenson, who once said "It's the newer writers who generally write the stand-alone episodes, so they need to pitch ideas. And it's more like as you feel more secure in your job, you start being trusted with the arc episodes." Like this one.

As a side issue, this issue has also finally settled one of the questions that people have been puzzling over for years. Yes, new Slayers are still being called even two years after Willow cast the spell in 'Chosen' - but only once they reach the right age. And since that was how I always thought it would be happening, I'd like to thank Ms Espenson for justifying my belief. :-)


Issue 8.21 also continues the trend of naming episodes that feature Harmony after her ('Disharmony', 'Harm's Way'). Harmonic Divergence is obviously the opposite of a harmonic convergence; things are flying apart rather than coming together, and it's all thanks to Harm.

I'm not entirely sure how the opening scene is structured; are the comments in square boxes Harmony's thoughts (as opposed to her spoken words), or her narration after the event, or her blog, or is this actually an episode of her reality TV show (with her voice-over) and the next part where she gets an agent and pitches it to MTV a flashback?

Anyway, Harmony (or rather Jane) proves that she's the mistress of the single entendre with her 'perky pair' comment. Not sure if the urine running down her leg is supposed to be the dog's, her own, or metaphorical, though... And the guy she picks up and then bites was completely unrecognised by me, although apparently Andy Dick is a real-life minor TV celebrity in America with a controversial history of being involved with drink and drugs and sexual assault. I wonder if he had to give permission for his likeness to be used in the comic?

On the subject of celebrities I know nothing about, I also have no clue if there's anything significant, funny or in-jokey about the reference to Lindsay Lohan's mother. Unless the joke is supposed to be that it's actually Samantha Ronson in the picture, or something? I don't know. I do know that Harmony goes on to compare herself to Paris Hilton and refer to real-life gossip sites TMZ (Thirty Mile Zone) and Entertainment Today.

In the frame showing her apartment, see the photograph half-hidden behind the computer screen? Is that a picture of Spike? I'm also wondering if the My Little Pony picture has been modified to turn it into a unicorn...

CAA actually stands for Creative Artists Agency. I have to admit, I first assumed it was some sort of secret government organisation and the people there were 'agents' in the FBI or James Bond sense... but apparently they're talent agents. The building shown - 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City, LA - is their real-life address.

Which of course brings up the question of continuity with 'Angel:After The Fall', since Harmony's version of Los Angeles is clearly not in Hell. I can see three possible answers to this:

1. 'After The Fall' is already over and done with by this time in Season 8. After all, 'Not Fade Away' was broadcast 12 months after 'Chosen', and 'The Long Way Home' begins at least 18 months after 'Chosen', so there's a minimum of six months to fit AtF into.

2. The Los Angeles which Angel and his friends were teleported into is not the real one; it's a copy built (or discovered) in a hell-dimension by the Senior Partners.

3. The final chapter of 'After The Fall' will involve some sort of time manipulation or parallel universe reset button that takes Los Angeles and its people right back to 'Not Fade Away' with no time having passed in the outside world.

I rather like the depiction of Harmony here - she's actually quite capable when she wants to be, casually ruthless, but note the little touch of pathos when she says that MTV can "cast people" as her friends, because she obviously doesn't have any of her own... And nice little cameo by Buffy - who's utterly shocked and horrified, presumably equally by the idea of a vampire going so public and the fact that it's Harmony - and Willow who gives us a callback to her Tina Fey fantasy in 'Anywhere But Here'. She's definitely a Tina fangirl.

Does Harmony actually say "L.O.L", or is this proof that she's writing this in a blog? (And who pronounces it ell-oh-ell rather than lol"?)

And after the fun, now suddenly the story gets serious. We cut to our nameless Latina 16-year old Slayer... and it's probably worth giving a shout-out to the fact that a 'Buffy' story set in southern California actually features a Hispanic character for once. Actually, Jeanty and Madsen draw and colour her in a quite similar fashion to the way Renee was depicted, making me wonder if this is posthumous clarification of Renee's own ethnicity.

(ETA: Acording to Scott Allie the Slayer's name is actually Soledad; that was in the script but didn't make it into the written dialogue.)

As I said in my introduction, notice how the new Slayer mentions that today is her sixteenth birthday... and right in the middle of the fight she gets surrounded by a shimmery white glow, grins broadly, and proceeds to knock down all six other members of her girl gang. She might even have killed them, although there's no blood shown on the ground. In other words, almost two years after Buffy and Willow cast the spell turning all Potentials into Slayers, another Potential has just been activated as soon as she turned sixteen - thus establishing at the same time that new Slayers are still being called, and that Potentials have to reach a certain age before they become Slayers.

Nice to see Andrew and Vi's TV commercial (from 'The Chain') being repeated again... and that our Slayer's response to it is suspicion and a desire to avoid getting involved. Even so, Andrew manages to track her down in less than a week - that can only have been through magical detection spells. It seems that Harmony's TV show is already starting to persuade people that vampires aren't really a threat... and it's only when Andrew's words about vampires preying on the weak, offering them power but then victimising them strike a nerve that she agrees to listen.

And then it all goes wrong. While some of the blame must go on the bad connection, I think there's also a nod here to Buffy's speech-making skills not having improved much since Season 7. Or rather - when Buffy is really determined and emotionally involved she can make excellent speeches, but when she's just going through the motions she tends to go on way too long, and lecture rather than connect. I did like the 'evil candy' reference, a cute little nod to Jane Espenson's own first episode for the show... and "sometimes there are snakes" sounds like the caption to an icon if ever I've heard one. When Buffy talks about protecting and training and family, she actually comes across as genuine and sincere; but I really don't know what prompted her sloganising at the end. To the new Slayer, it clearly sounds like the kind of rhetoric criminal girl gangs (or demagogue politicians) use to suck in impressionable young recruits... and isn't that an interesting comparison to make about Buffy's Slayer Army?

As Buffy talks on the phone, there's a little slapstick comedy routine going on in the background with Dawn, Willow, Xander and a stallion. When this was first hinted at in a spoiler comment, everybody was up in arms about how dreadful and crude and tacky it would be. Seeing it on paper I actually think it's pretty cute and funny, especially the expressions on their faces and the fact that Buffy doesn't even notice what's happening.

It's nice to see Clem again, even if how he ended up as part of Harmony's entourage never gets explained. Still, Clem's a mellow kind of guy who gets on well with everybody, and he had to go somewhere after Sunnydale fell into the Hellmouth. As Jeanty mentioned in an interview, notice that the tattoos available in the shop include Angel's griffin, the 'B' of 'Buffy', Faith's barbed-wire tattoo and the Dark Horse logo. There's also the logo from the 'Watchmen' comic in there, which is appropriate since "who watches the watchmen?" is pretty much the theme of the entire season arc.

It may just be a coincidence, but the guy talking to Harmony at the party and asking her to turn him looks very much like Pike, Buffy's original boyfriend from the movie (or at least the comicbook adaptation of it).

The action sequence seems a little confusing to me. Harmony sees the Slayer coming towards her with a stake, she drops her dog who falls down the stairs and lands on Clem, and then she and the Slayer trip over each other? But then the fight starts for real, and the cameras keep rolling. And purely by accident, as she cowers away in terror, Harmony joins the ranks of Spike and Drusilla as a vampire who's killed a Slayer.

It's doubtless extremely cynical of Jane to suggest that a vampire killing and draining a victim on live TV would become an instant ratings sensation and break records for online views, but I suspect it's also sadly accurate. As is the fact that where Twilight and the US Army (not to mention legions of demons, vampires and hellgods) have failed to do serious harm to Buffy and her Slayers, MTV and the rest of the media might be the biggest threat they've ever faced. After all, Harmony is cute and cuddly and sexy, and she was only acting in self-defence, and Slayers must be violent and dangerous and therefore evil.

The shots of the Slayers watching the show in utter horror were pretty powerful stuff, although there were a couple of cute touches in there too. The MTV staff all have little bandages on their necks - clearly they've been letting Harmony suck on them - and Xander and Willow were braiding Dawn's tail as they watched TV.

Anderson Cooper is apparently a real-life well-known journalist on CNN; again, if you're American you probably knew that already.

The questions he asks are similar to those General Voll asked right back at the beginning. Who decides what is evil? Who protects humanity from Slayers? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? And Buffy and Willow's bewilderment over why people don't realise they're the good guys - remember their conversation about this in 'No Future For You'? - is pushed home in a way that's both funny and also subtley biting... that final picture of Harmony's Pommeranian wearing a white hat.

In episode 21, everything changes...

Comments

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 20:52 (UTC)
buffy: w/t ; strong like an amazon

I kind of want to read this now, just for the Lindsay/Sam and Paris Hilton references. Oh, and it is entirely plausible that Harmony is saying "LOL" outloud -- I mean, I do it (though usually sarcastically, and I say it "L-O-L").

The MTV staff all have little bandages on their necks - clearly they've been letting Harmony suck on them

. . . Was I the only one whose mind went straight to the gutter right there?


Edited at 2009-01-08 20:53 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:30 (UTC)

Well, I'm not saying it *is* a Lindsay/Sam reference -although I totally thought of you when I read that panel ;-). See what you think:



I think Jane Espenson's mind was firmly in the gutter all through this issue. Starting with Harmony sucking on A. Dick and onwards...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:29 (UTC)

Great review as always!

new Slayers are still being called even two years after Willow cast the spell in 'Chosen' - but only once they reach the right age.

So Buffy was the wrong age when she was called at 15?

the fact that Buffy doesn't even notice what's happening

Buffy not noticing Dawn? Can't be. ;-)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:35 (UTC)

So Buffy was the wrong age when she was called at 15?

*sigh* You're trying to apply show-canon to the comics - very bad idea...

I've always thought of all the new Slayers being called at around about the time they hit puberty.

Edited at 2009-01-08 21:35 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:37 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:40 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:45 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 21:47 (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:59 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 10:35 (UTC)

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 02:53 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 03:10 (UTC)

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 10th January 2009 19:39 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 10th January 2009 19:42 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2009 21:55 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:36 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:39 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 23:12 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:47 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 23:50 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 12th January 2009 18:22 (UTC)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 07:48 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 10:00 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:00 (UTC)

Nice analysis. The last sentence though, shouldn't that be "In the 21st episode everything changes..."? :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:36 (UTC)

Quite possibly. I've not seen Torchwood for a long time. :-)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 22:46 (UTC)

As someone who's currently in the middle of writing a fic set right during this timeframe, and involving the activation of new Slayers, I'd just like to thank Jane and Joss for throwing a million new question marks into the mix. :-)

Some points:
1. Are all new Slayers now activated on their 16th birthdays, or was that just a coincidence in Soledad's case? Do all potentials become Slayers automatically? Is there any connection anymore at all between the death of a Slayer and the activation of a new one?

This all means, of course, that you can't end the Slayers just by killing them all (or even all the Potentials). You have to destroy the magic that creates them itself. Which is just what Twilight is trying to do, and why he was so indifferent to Warren's missile attack.

2. When did the world at large become universally aware of the existence of vampires? What happened to the "biker gangs on PCP?" And wouldn't it be hard to know vamps exist without also coming to know very quickly that 99.99% of them are mad dog killers? There's only so much reality TV can hide... where is Homeland Security? What do the non-Harmony vamps think about being outed like this?

3. Why did Soledad's story shift from 1st person to 3rd person when she arrived at Harmony's party? Why did the cross around her neck vanish just before Harm bit her right in that spot? Did Harmony kill her all-the-way dead? Did she vamp her?

4. Where are all of Buffy's other Slayers right now?

5. I think it's obvious that MTV is infiltrated by Twilight's people. They arranged Harmony's show as a way of discrediting the Slayers and depriving them of their public support. It also explains how MTV was able to find out so much about the Slayers.

6. Dawn must be in heat. Poor Dawnie.

7. And just a curious note on the preview copy for next issue..."Kennedy goes to Tokyo to check up on Satsu. Do you see the conflict...?"

Ummm, no? Unless Satsu has been hitting on Willow or Kennedy has been hitting on Buffy, why should there be conflict between these two? Hopefully this isn't a signal of "they're both lesbians so they have to wind up in bed together...angst ensues." Because that would be... disappointing.

I liked this issue, but it was odd. Odder even than #20 IMO.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 23:37 (UTC)

Well, I don't know the answers but speculation is always fun:

1) I think it was more than a coincidence, or Jane wouldn't have made such a big thing about the date, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every new Slayer will be called on her birthday. There could be something mystical involved about "the date on which the Potential believes that she has become a woman", perhaps?

I think the spell in 'Chosen' broke the link between a Slayer's death and the calling of the next one. Now, all Potentials automatically become Slayers as soon as they're old enough. ("Every girl who could be a Slayer, will be a Slayer.")

It's possible, I suppose, that the total number of Potentials plus Slayers in the world always equals the same number, so as one dies another is born. Personally, I prefer the idea that there's a combination of heredity, garbled magical rituals disguised as "meaningless superstitions" or "religious prayers", and plain old destiny involved in creating Potentials, and the number is therefore not fixed.

2) I think the answer to your question here is "when Harmony's show became a hit" and for most people, Harmony is the only vampire they know about. And she's fluffy and cute, so nobody is scared of her. Mind you, there's always been an undercurrent that more people know about the supernatural than actually let on: remember Joyce's speech in 'Gingerbread.' People know; they just keep quiet because they don't want other people to think they're crazy.

3. Soledad's own narration was still in first person, but the two panels starting "Seems funny to me" were the last ones she spoke. Either Harmony ripped off the cross, or it's just not visible in that final panel. I think she actually died from the stake through her heart, and I doubt she's been vamped but it's not impossible.

4. I think the hundred-odd Slayers from the castle in Scotland are now crammed into alternative accommodation somewhere else in Scotland, maybe not all in the same place.

5. Interesting speculation.

6. Ew. Although wouldn't that affect her behaviour too? All those hormones? Alternatively, maybe the unicorn (I spotted the horn on a closer look) is intelligent and just being over-friendly? :-)

7. No, I didn't see the conflict either. If anything, I think they could bond in shared jealousy over all the time Buffy and Willow have been spending together...


They're doing something different with this arc, I think; it seems like it's lots of stand-alone stories about minor characters that will all feed into a wider story arc. Hence the oddness. There's very much a vibe of 'The Chain' in this, I think.

Thanks for the comments!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 22nd January 2009 21:03 (UTC)
Becoming a Slayer

Posted by: harsens_rob (harsens_rob)
Posted at: 18th June 2009 16:46 (UTC)
The Slayer Line

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 19th June 2009 16:44 (UTC)
Re: The Slayer Line

Posted by: satsux (satsux)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 23:35 (UTC)

I don't really think the age had anything to do with it, when it comes to Soledad's calling. I mean, there's probably a connection, but the situation seems to be the same as Fake Buffy in the chain. Dangerous situation = Powers activiting. Cause if it was the birthday, wouldn't it had happened in the exact hour? If it's not that, then is the other word, Destiny. Which means, the slayer essence that Willow freed, is making the choices when it thinks they're ready.

As for vamps being outted, I think that's just fits into Twilight's plan. After all, what's the difference if he tells the world the supernatural exist, if he's removing it? He's got people in the goverment, I'm sure that making everyone look the other way. Plus, it's the Buffyverse, if Reality shows in our world have stuff like people eating hearts and eyeballs, backstabbing each other, I think vamp suckage and killing is okay for this verse.

Also, My Little Pony has Unicorns and Pegasus characters, so I'm sure that's one of them. And sadly, I know people who say LOL like that and I find it appropiate for Harmony. -__-

Nice review as always.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2009 23:46 (UTC)

the slayer essence that Willow freed, is making the choices when it thinks they're ready

I agree, but I think that "when they're old enough" is part of that "being ready" thing. Which doesn't mean it'll be the same age for everybody, of course... bear in mind that Soleded chooses her 16th birthday as the day she'll finally break away from the gang and live her own life. I think in her own mind, she just became an adult.

Thanks!

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 00:48 (UTC)

Just one more little point...

I think Andrew's supposedly throwaway line..."People suck"...may turn out to be the defining statement of this entire arc. If anything will push Buffy over into the side of fully targeting humans and accepting Voll's declaration of war...this is it.

And we need to put away our assumption that when Buffy and Simone meet each other in a couple of issues, it will be as enemies.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 19:12 (UTC)
buffy-rocketlauncher

Buffy and Simone seem pretty hostile to each other on the cover of issue 8.23... but you're right, it would be interesting if they end up having to ally, or if Buffy is tempted to copy Simone's methods after all...

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 07:40 (UTC)

As Buffy talks on the phone, there's a little slapstick comedy routine going on in the background with Dawn, Willow, Xander and a stallion. When this was first hinted at in a spoiler comment, everybody was up in arms about how dreadful and crude and tacky it would be. Seeing it on paper I actually think it's pretty cute and funny, especially the expressions on their faces and the fact that Buffy doesn't even notice what's happening.


Is Jane telling us something here? That Xander and Willow are the ones taking care of/trying to save Dawn from her current situation while Buffy is way too busy to notice/bother?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 19:14 (UTC)

Quite possibly... although she is at least in the same place as Dawn, which is an improvement. I do think she's spending more time with her friends now after 8.20.

Posted by: SharkyBoredNow (sharkyborednow)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 09:31 (UTC)

I finally decided to register on LJ after having read and enjoyed your reviews as well as other Buffy related stuff for quite a while.

It's nice to see Clem again, even if how he ended up as part of Harmony's entourage never gets explained.

I don't think it's a huge stretch to think they'd met before through Spike and the kitten poker sessions. :)

There's also the logo from the 'Watchmen' comic in there, which is appropriate since "who watches the watchmen?" is pretty much the theme of the entire season arc.

That part also inspired me to make this:
Who watches the Slayers?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 19:17 (UTC)

Welcome! & nice logo.

Do I get a commission from LiveJournal? :-)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 10:16 (UTC)

Great review!

The Los Angeles which Angel and his friends were teleported into is not the real one; it's a copy built (or discovered) in a hell-dimension by the Senior Partners.

I think this is it.
In issue 10 Betta George sends a telepathic signal to his friends in Las Vegas. They switch on TV and see that nothing happened to LA. Obviously, it's the LA Harmony conquers right now. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 19:20 (UTC)
angel-dragon

Thanks!

At the time, the scene with Betta George and Mosaic might have been just an illusion to cover the big gaping hole where LA used to be; but now we've got Harmony actually in LA I think it's pretty definite. Still, AtF will be ending soon so hopefully we'll learn the truth...

Posted by: rapunzel215 (rapunzel215)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 16:48 (UTC)

Great review. I really enjoy reading your stuff.

A couple answers to your American celebrity stuff:

Lindsey Lohan's mother had (maybe still has) a reality show on cable (E! or MTV) called "Living Lohan", so the comment is actually about Lindsay's mother Dina.

Andy Dick was on an NBC sitcom with Dave Foley and Phil Hartman called "News Radio" in the 1990's, and he does minor stuff now.

The paparazzi caught Harmony biting A. Dick, so the picture on her computer desktop is of the two of them.

Anderson Cooper is the primary anchor on CNN, and is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. He's a very popular television journalist here in America.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 19:20 (UTC)

Thanks for the input. :-) Does the woman in the drawing look like Dina Lohan?

Posted by: rapunzel215 (rapunzel215)
Posted at: 9th January 2009 22:52 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 10th January 2009 19:51 (UTC)

To the new Slayer, it clearly sounds like the kind of rhetoric criminal girl gangs (or demagogue politicians) use to suck in impressionable young recruits... and isn't that an interesting comparison to make about Buffy's Slayer Army?

Interesting but nor necessarily apt - there's never been an equivalent scene to the one featuring Soledad's request to leave. Likewise the MTV guy's comparison to the Nazis, is it a reference to Slayer demonocidal tendencies (which the 'Army' reign back to some extent - they're not going after Harmony) or to the way people throw around terms like feminazis with little or no understanding of what National Socialism actually stood for?


It's nice to see Clem again, even if how he ended up as part of Harmony's entourage never gets explained.

I figured he was one of the friends MTV hired for her.


the guy talking to Harmony at the party and asking her to turn him looks very much like Pike

Also the storyline MTV have written for her sounds like a gender reversed version of Twilight. Yay Zeitgeist!


It's doubtless extremely cynical of Jane to suggest that a vampire killing and draining a victim on live TV would become an instant ratings sensation and break records for online views, but I suspect it's also sadly accurate.

Not only that but how easy it is to spin. Soledad's already the wrong colour to be part of 'real America' and I'm sure if they look into her background the gang thing is what will come up first. The whole sequence would be so easy to edit to make Harmony's part look entirely like self defense and America approves of lethal self-defense, give that blonde girl a gun already! Even more so if most people now think of vampire bites as an illicit and survivable pleasure. Maybe they are these days, maybe Buffy's Army really has shifted the balance between good and evil (like Giles said in her dream and Jane also alluded to the issue in her interview). Maybe the majority of surviving vamps have moved off the streets and into the brothels.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 12th January 2009 15:52 (UTC)

Alternatively, maybe the unicorn (I spotted the horn on a closer look) is intelligent and just being over-friendly? :-)

I think its quite interesting to note the use of a unicorn back at camp Slayer (wherever it may be at this point in time, still waiting for more clarification on that one) when the issue is predominantly focused on Harmony. I mean, we all remember how much Harm loved her unicorns, right?

NJZ

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 12th January 2009 17:59 (UTC)

I was reading over the issue again for my recap and I realised that its quite ironic that Harmony's tv show is entitled "Harmony Bites". Ofcourse, simplistically, this is just a reference to her vampiric nature. But I also find it quite interesting, given that it was her biting that got her there in the first place. i.e. if she had never got all those agents curious about being bitten without dying, she never would've been given the oppurtunity to pitch her idea.

Additionally, I think the fact that Soledad's name never made it to the written dialogue is somewhat of a callback to The Chain. There we saw a nameless Slayer die for Buffy's cause; she was overcome by a sense of duty to do the right thing. And here we see another nameless Slayer die in the name of good vs evil, except this time she (unlike the Slayer from The Chain) feels more like she has a choice. Whilst the Slayer from The Chain was thrust into something she wasn't sure she wanted (yet she did it anyway due to her 'duty'), Soledad thrusts herself into the situation. I thought it was a nice parallel though I'm not entirely sure it was intentional.

I'd also like to point out that I got Faith vs Gigi NFFY vibes all throughout the fight scene between Soledad and Harmony. I dunno, this whole issue felt like a callback to past issues (I noticed how Anderson Cooper's speech sort of reflects that of Voll's way back in TLWH Pt 4).

I've also written another recap if you're interested. You don't have to read it but its there if you'd like: http://prev-on.blogspot.com/

The recap is on the front page.

NJZ

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 10th July 2011 01:29 (UTC)
(Review) BtVS 8.21 'Harmonic Divergence'

First of all, the fact that slayers are still being called means that the empowerment spell from Chosen is active---not a one time deal. It also means that in Fray's time, someone went through the effort of undoing it. Maybe that's why Urkonn has the Scythe? To change the slayer spell back to the original one as soon as magic returned?

Second of all, I like the slapstick scene where Dawn the centaur meets the Unicorn. They are both magical horses, so one of the commenters speculating that Dawn's in heat is really funny.

Third, I have no idea why anyone would let Andrew make first contact with a slayer. Worse is, I have no idea how Andrew ended up in California in the first place. I assume a commerical flight? But where are all the local slayers? And why would anyone let Buffy talk to the girl on a phone with a bad connection. A personal meeting between slayers might have gone completely different.

Fourth, I have no idea how a girl from a gang got such an expensive dress. MTV itself? It's a paid job?

Fifth, Soledad is from the streets. I doubt she's that stupid to take out Harmony in full view of everyone. *face palm*

Anyway, this whole issue reads like a political statement about the U.S.A. and as such I like it. But it doesn't work for me as a plot development in season 8.

Where is the reaction from the Bible belt that was talked so much about during American elections? And I'm just having to accept that the Catholics, the Jews, the Muslim are throwing their books away and embracing vampires? I'm not saying that Europe wouldn't react the same way initially, but ... it's also not as black-and-white thinking (mostly, *smiles*).

It also feels to me like the writers have realised that the empowerment spell from Chosen has cost them the reality distortion field that surrounded Sunnydale. Their solution: turn the world into Americans. *sigh*

And while the comics might continuously try to compare the slayers to: terrorists, gangs, Nazis (WTF, take a history lesson!), that doesn't mean I'm just going to accept it.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes is a valid question, but I'm just not seeing *that*. I'm seeing a complete reversal. With no justification why the whole world should think like that.

Thanks for your thoughts though.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th July 2011 16:46 (UTC)
Re: (Review) BtVS 8.21 'Harmonic Divergence'

I'm not exactly sure what Willow did... is it her spell now calling Slayers as a replacement for the old spell, or did she just modify the Shadowmen's original spell so that it affects multiple women at once? But it's an interesting idea that someone in Fray's time had to actively re-cast the spell to call Melaka. Why would they? I'm sure the demons would be quite happy with no Slayer at all.

In a later issue Xander mentions Centaur!Dawn is going off visiting the woodland folk for days at a time to "sow some wild oats". So maybe she really is going into heat, every three weeks? :) Yes, I'm sad enough to look up the oestrus cycle of equines to establish that it's three weeks long.

3. Andrew was the one sent to California in 'Damage' as well. He's obviously better at his job than you'd expect from his showing on the TV show - he's maturing.

As for Buffy's involvement, I think it's meant to speak to the idolisation and hero-worship of her among her followers. They assume - wrongly - that a mere word from their idol will be enough to convince anyone to join them. But this issue is all about how the Hollywood machine can manufacture new idols at will.

4. Maybe she stole it?

5. She's also a 16-year old untrained Slayer who's just discovered she's a superhero able to beat up half a dozen people at once without a scratch on her. She probably thinks she's invulnerable now.

I agree this is a political statement about America, and specifically about the cynicism of the US entertainment industry and the naiveté of the people who buy into its glamour. On the other hand, I don't believe that suddenly "Everybody loves vampires". It may have felt that way to Buffy and her Slayers as the backlash against them grew, but I think that was an exaggeration. There are always people who are opposed to the latest celebrity trend or media idol, even if their voices are sometimes difficult to hear over the countervailing noise.

Also, I'm pretty sure that neither the Bible, the Torah nor the Qu'ran mention vampires specifically. :) The media are presenting vampires, with Harmony as their role model, as perfectly rational and friendly people who've been tragically misunderstood and demonised over the years. Don't the major religions teach us to love our neighbour and forgive her sins? Why shouldn't that forgiveness extend to vampires too? "Because vampires are Evil" is just more Slayeresque bigotry and discrimination...

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