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(Review) BtVS 8.30 'Retreat' Part 5

5th November 2009 (20:39)

It's nice to see that Season 8 can still bring surprises. I think I've worked out what's going on in that final scene, but now we'll all have to wait two months to find out if it's the right guess...

Anyway, on with the review.

 

I was struck by the incongruity of the splash page with the big title saying "Retreat" while Buffy is shouting "Advance!" I'm sure it's deliberate, in that "Nothing is what it appears to be" kind of way.

Having all the characters wearing flak jackets and helmets makes it really hard to tell them apart, which isn't Jeanty's strongest point as an artist at the best of times. Buffy and Willow are always recognisable, at least. Dawn is the one in the purple top standing next to Xander. The three women in the centre are Faith in the blue top, Kennedy (presumably) in the orange top and green trousers, and then Willow. I assume it's Andrew and Giles at the far right, and Giles (in green) has taken off his glasses. Presumably this is something he'd rather not watch too closely?

Amy and Warren having a lovers' quarrel is always fun, and Jane hangs a lantern on the whole "Your plan didn't even make sense" thing about Warren trying to tempt Andrew over to the dark side. Incidentally, I interpret her line "You are no The First" to be said with the same emphasis as "You're no Jack Kennedy". (Though whether Amy "knew The First, The First was a friend of hers", is open to question...) Twilight is ruthless and clinical, the military officer - who's wearing an obviously-US uniform - clearly disagrees with his plan and isn't afraid to say so, but also doesn't contradict him. I wonder if this is General Voll? (In the last Dark Horse Q&As I got the impression they hadn't specifically intended him to be Voll, but there's no reason he couldn't be if you know what I mean.) By the way, while this soldier is in American uniform and the vehicles they're using are US Army issue, the rifles the soldiers are carrying are AK-47s not M-16s. So they're not actually US Army, it would seem.

Dawn's helpful advice on the tactical disadvantages of being a giant was a nice bit of continuity - and her worry about how she looked back then was funny. (So was Xander's unconvincing denial). It's interesting that now even Buffy is shouting angrily "It sucks to be weak", after her temptation to lay down her strength willingly in the last few issues.

It was a bit difficult keeping track of the continuity and identity of the people here, but as far as I can work out, the people turning over the jeep are, from left to right, Willow, Kennedy, Buffy, and an unknown Slayer. Xander and Dawn come and help turn the jeep over, but then go off again. The pink-trousered unknown Slayer is the one who asks "Where?" at the bottom of this page, but she doesn't get into the jeep because she's not shown again. Kennedy, in green trousers, doesn't appear in this picture, but on subsequent pages she's the one driving the jeep.

Bay seems to be still alive for the moment. Her remarks about "They shouldn't have come here." and "We gave them everything" are mysterious and portentous; I assume she's talking about the goddesses because she's realised what she'll later explain - that they've forgotten how to tell goodies from baddies.

An interesting symbolic moment is that Buffy saves Willow's life (or at least saves her from being badly injured) yet again, despite only having normal human strength and reactions. The link between these two characters is definitely an important part of the season.

A nice little Twilight interlude  - Warren complaining about why he's the only one of the three not to have binoculars is a wonderfully ironic callback to 'Seeing Red'.

The goddesses start attacking the Slayers as well as the humans, to the great surprise of - well, just about none of the readership. But Buffy is shocked and horrified, and Willow can't believe it either. "We didn't bring help. We brought death." is, of course, a line that can be interpreted a whole lot of ways, and not just about the 'Retreat' plot arc.

It's interesting that the two people who are the first to realise that the goddesses are the enemy, pretty much simultaneously with each other, are Buffy and Dawn. Dawn shows good sense in immediately taking charge of the situation and warning the Slayers to fall back, and Xander follows her lead in a practical and supportive fashion.

Bay (who's still alive!) gives us some important exposition about the goddesses - it's not that they're deliberately cheating on the deal, but that they've been away from the Earth so long, they can no longer tell humans apart or recognise friend from foe. That's probably saying something symbolic about the Slayers too. Faith, characteristically, is the one to spell out what that means: they're screwed.

And it turns out that Buffy was going to rescue Riley. First unexpected twist of the episode. Notice that Kennedy doesn't recognise him; she at first assumes that he's just "a prisoner". Dawn also assumes that, even though she presumably does recognise him. Buffy now reveals that Riley was her man on the inside, spying on Twilight. I'm going to withhold judgement on that until we get some more story; I'm not convinced yet whether Riley is an agent, double agent, triple agent or quadruple agent...

I do wonder what information he's been able to provide Buffy so far, since it doesn't seemed to have helped her much... It's possible that it was too dangerous for him to contact her much before; but now she was forced to blow his cover since otherwise he would have died on the battlefield.

I wonder what fans of 'As You Were' will have to say about this further meeting between Buffy and Riley. :-)

No 'Buffy' episode is complete without relationship angst, and so here it is. Buffy gets all emotional at seeing Xander is still alive and hugs him, rather too warmly. Xander apparently enjoyed it; he has a seriously bemused look on his face afterwards. Dawn is not at all happy with her sister,as you'd expect.

Oh, and fans of the lesser-seen Slayers can score two points if they noticed Leah standing there in this scene.

I did like the ambiguity of Twilight's "He was working for her the whole time" comment followed by Warren's inquiry - classic Buffy humour, and of course it does leave the whole question of who's side Riley is actually on still open. It was also funny the way Warren and Amy completely ignored Twilight to have yet another quarrel, and Twilight just gave up and left them. For a vastly powerful supervillain manipulating people like puppets all over the world, Twilight does seem oddly unassertive with the people he spends most of his time with.

Now we have a pretty powerful emotional scene. Riley tells Buffy that only a miracle can save them. She's at her last ebb; no weapons, no friends, no hope. But this time, she doesn't despair. The next double-page spread is an object lesson in why we should be cheering for her, not Twilight.

He's quite happy to let his own men die ("They're mortal" - does that imply he isn't?); his plan is more important than the lives of his followers. Notice that the fleeing crowd includes both human soldiers and Slayers, now mixed together indiscriminately. Buffy, though, chooses to accept that they've lost the battle, but that the important thing now is to save as many lives as possible. In what's obviously a spur-of-the-moment act of compassion, she tells the Slayers to rescue the enemy wounded too. It's characteristic of her - but such a contrast to the ruthless Buffy we saw back in 'Time Of Your Life'. Just as in 'Becoming', being stripped of all else lays bear the truth of who she really is.

Riley calls her an "amazing woman". Oz, though, points out that all the Slayers who are risking their own lives for the same cause are equally amazing.

At the top of this page, Buffy has given the Scythe to another Slayer to hold. I'm going to assume that it's Satsu, based partly on her skin colour and partly because I can't imagine Buffy trusting many other people to hold the Scythe. (Satsu, in fact, has been shown holding the Scythe in both 'The Long Way Home' and 'Wolves At The Gate'; as far as I can remember, she's the only Slayer apart from Buffy to have done so all season. Not counting Fray, who had her own Scythe.)

What happens next seems to go like this: One of the enemy soldiers is about to shoot Buffy. Satsu notices this, pushes Buffy to safety and shoots the soldier with her pistol. Buffy falls into the hand of one of the goddesses - Remati, the divine protector of Tibet - who stares at her, looking as if she's about to eat her. Buffy is horrified. Then Remati drops Buffy from a great height - around 14 or 15 metres by the look of it - and it certainly looks as if she wouldn't survive the fall.

Then cut to the double page spread and the caption "Five hours later". The battle's over, and the Slayers lost. The survivors are being taken prisoner, and I wonder what Twilight plans to do with them. I can see Dawn and Willow and Giles in the group, so we know they at least survived for now. Buffy is buried in a snowdrift. The snow covering her eyes is particularly creepy - I assume it could happen naturally, with snow setting in the hollows of her face but drifting off the curves, but it looks a lot like the coins covering the eyes of a corpse. Incidentally, presumably everyone else assumes that Buffy is now dead?

But she wakes up, and looks nauseous. She's alone. She closes her eyes... and when she opens them again, she's suspended in mid-air a couple of hundred metres over the temple.

Now there's a twist I didn't expect. :-)

At first I thought she died (again), and now she's a ghost. But after thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that the goddesses kept their part of the bargain after all. They've returned the power they were offered... but they've returned it ALL to Buffy. When Remati picked Buffy up and stared at her so closely, she presumably finally managed to recognise her as the mortal whose anger summoned her to this plane. So she gave Buffy back all the power the three goddesses had been offered since they were last summoned.

And so Buffy can now fly, because that was one of Willow's powers. Presumably Buffy is now the most powerful witch in the western hemisphere, as well as being a Slayer again. (Remember 'The Long Way Home', when Willow used magic through Buffy's eyes? Foreshadowing...) And possibly Buffy is also now a werewolf. It's an open question whether Slayer power is additive; does Buffy now have the cumulative strength of all the however-many dozens or hundreds of Slayers there were in the monastery? Or are we back to the situation of 'Welcome To The Hellmouth', with only one Slayer in all the world? Either way, it's looking like the people who wanted the spell in 'Chosen' to be reversed just got their wish. (As have the people who preferred it when Willow wasn't a witch, just a hacker...) Things just got really interesting...

Comments

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:08 (UTC)

This is probably not the thing to be focusing on, but...

Then cut to the double page spread and the caption "Five hours later". The battle's over, and the Slayers lost. The survivors are being taken prisoner, and I wonder what Twilight plans to do with them.

So, the last time we saw them, the goddesses were killing everyone, and the Slayers were trying to save Twilight's army. Then, presumably, the goddesses gave all their power to Buffy, and went away. So then Twilight's army picked up their weapons and started fighting again, defeating the Slayers and taking them prisoner?

There's an object lesson about no good deed going unpunished if I ever saw one.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:16 (UTC)

The way I interpreted it, Twilight was keeping back part of his force in a safe place - he and Amy were watching the battle through binoculars, so they were obviously a long way away.

So:
1. Goddesses kill Slayers and Twilight's army indiscriminately.
2. Buffy organises getting all the wounded, of both sides, into the monastery where they'll be safe.
3. Twilight, at the same time, keeps his own personal reserve back out of danger, but abandons his main force to their deaths.
4. Buffy gets zapped.
5. The goddesses leave (not straight away, though).
6. Twilight sends in the rest of his men to mop up the wounded Slayers, who without Buffy have no choice but to surrender (but still apparently kept on fighting for five hours before the end).

I've got a suspicion that Buffy's act of charity towards her enemies, compared to Twilight's ruthlessness, could pay off eventually when Twilight's men turn on him... but we'll have to see.

Edited at 2009-11-05 21:18 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 18:09 (UTC)
Dollhouse

6. Twilight sends in the rest of his men to mop up the wounded Slayers, who without Buffy have no choice but to surrender (but still apparently kept on fighting for five hours before the end).

I thought Twilight's primary goal was Buffy. Apparently, his priorities have changed radically, because now he took everybody but her.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th November 2009 01:53 (UTC)

But my suspicion is that everybody thinks Buffy is dead, killed by the goddess. (Also, I don't think Twilight wanted her dead anyway - so his own plans might have just taken a knock.)

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:19 (UTC)

That's probably a better thing to be focusing on than "God, I hope the goddess gave Buffy all that power, because it would really mess up my continuity if I have to deal with Slayers spontaneously gaining random superpowers once they reach a certain age."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:27 (UTC)

Age 15 - superstrength, reflexes, healing, intuition.
Age 25 - the power of flight.
Age 35 - the power to teleport and warp space
Age 45 - the power to cause earthquakes and tidal waves...

?? Nah, probably not. :-)

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:33 (UTC)

You left out flame-throwing, invulnerability, mind-reading, and the ability to summon small harmless mammals 1/2xyour level times per day. *g*

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:51 (UTC)

Actually... given that Willow could already do all of those things (except the small furry mammals one, probably) I'm guessing Buffy just acquired the abilities herself.

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:36 (UTC)

I dunno. That fawn seemed awfully friendly toward Willow in "Bargaining." I'd wager that wasn't its natural instinct at work...

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:43 (UTC)

LOL! Good point. Though if you're ignoring the comics in every other area of continuity, there's no reason to feel compelled to incorporate that one.

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 22:30 (UTC)

I'm not so much ignoring them as not certain what parts might eventually become useful. I'd be reluctant to use Twilight as a villain without knowing who they are and why they want to get rid of all magic, for example. But I might have Oz and Bay show up at some point.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:19 (UTC)

I always look forward to your reviews.

I've lost my copy, which I assume is not a subconscious verdict on the whole thing. Though I'm pretty sure I won't replace it. (I'll get it again in the TPB)

I think you are right about what happened at the end. Someone pointed out the green magic stream Buffy falls in and that suggests she got the power before she decked. The imagery is still all death and resurrection, though. It will be interesting, indeed, to see what sort of Buffy just got metaphorically resurrected. She just had her first moment of real compassion since forever. But now she's whisked off to being super-duper-super girl, and that seems unlikely to help the get closer to humanity project. Emmie wants to see this as the consequence of letting go -- but Buffy didn't let go for good reasons, so I'm not sure the getting it back in spades should be seen as a good thing. We'll see.

I'm right there with you in wondering whether Riley ever contributed anything if he's just a spy. I think complaints about how little bang for the buck there seems to be in that story line are on the money, pending further development.

My original exasperation with the issue was because I thought there would be a myriad of explanations for what happened. Virtually everyone is gravitating to the one you give here -- and that seems to me to be the right reading of the thing. So at least we aren't to be set puzzling about what happened, but are instead set to puzzle on what it will mean for Buffy. That's a more interesting puzzlement to have.

I remain irked, though, by the randomness of things in Retreat. The whole goddess thing literally is dea ex machina. If this is how Buffy defeats Twilight it's a very lucky outcome to what seemed to be a series of not very heroic or inspiring decisions. (Her late decision to save all had nothing to do with the goddess subplot). That would leave me very meh if that's how it goes.

I do love the way flying leaps out as something that's been a deal all the way through and that now promises to actually add up to something. I especially love that Buffy's there flying with the boots -- a counterpart to Twilight. The randomness of all of this would be vastly alleviated if Twilight's whole point has been to drive Buffy to a place where she'd get powered up this way.

Last thought, Willow's going to be some kind of pissed if Buffy is now flying around with her power. I look forward to that.



Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:45 (UTC)

Thanks!

I just thought the green flash was to show the impact when she hits the ground, but it's an interesting thought that it represents magic - remember, Willow's own magic has always been shown as green light in this season. Certainly, if Remati did power-up Buffy it was when she was holding her up to her face.

It's just struck me that Buffy's return is staged very much like the return of Gandalf in 'Lord of the Rings'. Maybe I should start referring to überBuffy as "Buffy the White" now? :-)

I don't really understand complaints about the Riley storyline not offering enough "bang for the buck", though - not every subplot has to be of world-shaking importance. And it seems clear that there's going to be some major revelations soon enough - all depending on whether Riley is really on Buffy's side. My current betting is that he is, but he's been fed misleading information by Twilight to lead Buffy into a trap.

Having a season arc end through a deus (or several deae) ex machina would be perfectly in line with almost every other season of Buffy, you realise. :-) She's always been given the secret mystical doodad in the next-to-last episode and used it to save the world. I think we're meant to focus on the psychological and emotional impact it has on her rather than the plot contrivances themselves. ;-)

I do think it's significant that Buffy's ascension here comes immediately after she just engaged in a purely selfless act of compassion. She could have just run for it, after all, and abandoned the wounded. She didn't get the enlightenment when she was hoping to benefit directly and personally from giving up her power in the prevous issues.


I do think Willow's reaction will be interesting. :-) I'm not wholly convinced that Willow's reaction will be completely negative though - Willow seemed enthusiastic about the idea of a normal life not so long ago, and if she can have that AND know that her powers will still be used to save the world on a regular basis because now Buffy has them... is that really so bad? I think she'll be conflicted, not furious.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 22:17 (UTC)

The complaint is just that you bring back a major character and that raises expectations of some sort of story line. Absent that and you risk being seen as doing nothing other than fan service. But if there are more revelations as you suspect that won't be a problem.

(BTW, I totally knew what Buffy was after when she started in on the jeep).

I knew you'd say the dea ex machina is what we've always gotten in Buffyland! But (a) I'm tired of it. It was weak in the Chosen. It's still weak here and (b) in this case dramatically I don't see Buffy as deserving it. She's in that pickle because of a series of (at best) uninspiring choices. The best we can do is that her moment of compassion and its validation by Riley (with the recent AYW meta in the back of my mind)are what set her up to be the super-duper conquering hero. But then, Oz already told us exactly what's wrong with that picture.

I should say, though, that I'd be surprised if this new superpowering proves to be the answer to Buffy's Twilight problem. We didn't go through a whole season about the problem with having power without a compass in order to say that the problem is solved by getting super-duper powers. And much as I hate the spell in the Chosen, letting Buffy get super-duper at the expense of everyone else is not a transparently good thing either. So there'll be more drama and probably I won't have to worry about the dea ex machina feel. It's just there for now during this lengthy pause. (Again with my hope that Twilight's been manipulating things *to* get Buffy to this point).

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:41 (UTC)

A part of me is now wondering if all the Slayer power wasn't consolidated into Buffy so that when magic is banished, only Buffy has to go to the other side and not the Slayers and Willow...

That panel from Fray and the mysterious Slayer's hand in the portal.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:53 (UTC)

It certainly has that effect, if the consolidation is permanent. Assuming that the 'Fray' future is fixed, of course, which I'm not convinced of. We know Joss is a 'Terminator' fan, after all, and in that franchise there's "no fate but what we make".

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:19 (UTC)

Cool thought! At the moment that would seem to be the case -- but is Buffy going to be the only powered up one for the rest of the season? There are *so* many ways this could go.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:25 (UTC)

It's amazing to me how the entire season we've had the "powers transferring" theme, but I'd only considered it in light of them giving up their slayer power and refusing the Chosen spell. I never thought about it in terms of Buffy getting Willow's powers or anyone else's. My mind still boggles at that.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:49 (UTC)

I'm not sure that bringing back Riley counts as "fan service." Unless the fan in question is Doug Petrie. :-)

I don't know if you saw my recent post on BuffyForums yet, but I think Buffy acquiring Willow's powers was clearly foreshadowed as long ago as 8.04. "Did I ever tell you about my best friend? I like to think, in a way, that she's a part of me. That even when she's gone, a part of me is with her. 'Cause it is." The parallels and links between Buffy and Willow have been in the foreground all season.

I'm quite sure, though, that Buffy going all superpowered in episode 8.30 is not going to be the panacea for all her Twilight-related problems. If this had happened in 8.39, maybe; but not when we've still got almost a year left to go with the story. (I'm not convinced it's all going to be some elaborate scheme of Twilight's, though. I hated the so-called reveal in Ats S4 about Jasmine masterminding everything since BtVS S3, and I hope Joss won't do the same again here.)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:54 (UTC)
Buffy's Excalibur

I was just thinking, if the spell in Primeval channeled all of Willow's power and the power of the First Slayer into Buffy then, but also included Giles and Xander, then isn't this similar in terms of Buffy acquiring power - but she doesn't get the accompanying wisdom and heart? She's once again Uber Buffy, but without the knowledge and heart guiding her.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:05 (UTC)

Giles presumably was one of the ones giving up his power, so she's got his knowledge. It's just Xander's heart she's lacking, and Dawn's extraordinariness.

But she does have Faith's impulsiveness and desire for redemption, Kennedy's loyalty and lack of tact, Satsu's irrepressibility, Oz's laconic insight... (Or maybe just their power).

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:08 (UTC)

Ah, but I don't see power and knowledge as going hand in hand. She might have Giles magical abilities, but I don't believe she knows how to use it. And likewise, when I say wisdom, I'm thinking of the knowledge gained from a lifetime and his Ripper past. Buffy, to my mind, doesn't have Giles wisdom here where as in Primeval, Giles was literally joined to her and so Giles was there in full. Here, she just might have Giles' magical power, but not his experience and judgment.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:31 (UTC)

Fan service in the sense that Lynch did it -- every character who was ever on the show must show up even if their appearance doesn't advance the story in the slightest bit. I'd like to think there's reasons behind Ethan's brief appearance, and the choice of Amy and Warren as Twilight's best pals. But it's possible that Joss is just doing the "lets stick in as many old characters as we can" routine. Except, of course, for the one character I'd most like to see.

I agree that there's been foreshadowing of linkage between Willow and Buffy. We've been talking about it on the reread thread as well. I think the Willow-slayage in ToYL is also part of that package. I'm sure we'll hear more about how it all works.

I don't see my theory as being like the Jasmine bit. We've SEEN Twilight maneuver Buffy into this position. He put her on the run. Made her magic the key to his being able to track her. He knows her well enough to know where she'll go when she realizes she wants to get rid of the magic. He knows what's there. He launches the attack to get Buffy to realize she does need her powers. He obviously knows that the goddesses will emerge as a double-edged sword. If he knows something about how the goddesses work, he could well anticipate that they'd zap Buffy with power the minute they got ahold of her.

Or maybe it really just is a crazy random happenstance that Buffy ends up in that last panel with Twilight-like boots and a Twilight-like flying stance. Probably so, but then we're back to the randomness thing that doesn't really rock my world.

Posted by: Fenchurch (fenchurche)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 22:20 (UTC)
Sunnydale

If this is how Buffy defeats Twilight it's a very lucky outcome to what seemed to be a series of not very heroic or inspiring decisions.

But thinking about it, that would actually fit in pretty well with how things were handled on the show, particularly "Chosen." Which would indicate that the lesson Buffy learned from there was that the way to win is to come up with a horrible battle strategy designed to get everyone killed and then some magical solution will crop up at the last minute and win the day.

All that said, I think I may actually want to look at picking this up when the TPB comes out.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:51 (UTC)

To be fair to Buffy: 99 times out of a hundred, for her to walk into the bad guys' lair, announce her presence, and then kill them all is a winning strategy. The very, very few times it fails, working out an altrenative approach becomes the subject of a season finale. :-)

Posted by: Fenchurch (fenchurche)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:52 (UTC)
BtVS Invincible

LOL! Very true!

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 01:29 (UTC)
Buffy's Excalibur

99 times out of a hundred, for her to walk into the bad guys' lair, announce her presence, and then kill them all is a winning strategy.

And that's what it means to be a Slayer - the thing monsters have nightmares about.

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:46 (UTC)

Emmie wants to see this as the consequence of letting go -- but Buffy didn't let go for good reasons, so I'm not sure the getting it back in spades should be seen as a good thing.

Yeah, that was my feeling as well, but I'm not sure how much of it is a gut-reaction dislike of Buffy potentially becoming too powerful (all-powerful characters aren't interesting). If, as you say, this is how Buffy defeats Twilight, it'll be pretty disappointing that she just lucked into all these powers that handily resolve the external conflict.

I'm right there with you in wondering whether Riley ever contributed anything if he's just a spy. I think complaints about how little bang for the buck there seems to be in that story line are on the money, pending further development.

Okay, here's my theory. Twilight is Future!Riley, but Present!Riley doesn't know it. Thus, Riley thinks he is a triple agent (ultimately on Buffy's side), but Future!Riley already knows what he's going to do (having already done it), and so Riley's not actually any help to Buffy because his future self knows about the double cross and can manipulate Riley to his advantage.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:17 (UTC)

Now there's a theory I haven't heard before! Future everybody else, but not future Riley.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:23 (UTC)

I don't think it'll be as simple as Buffy and Twilight duke it out with uber superpowers. 'Cause that sounds incredibly boring to me. I think it'll be something more dire actually. I was speculating above if her having these powers might lead to her sacrificing herself in order to end magic.

Or perhaps that foreshadowed scene of Buffy lying on the floor betrayed will happen from a conflict with Willow who takes her power back from Buffy in the most painful way imaginable.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:21 (UTC)
pic#85222149

I agree that Buffy got back all the Slayer/Wiccan powers from the goddess, but I think it happened spontaneously as a result of touching her, not any decision on the goddess' part.

And I wonder what happened to the Scythe.

Starting to look seriously at the possibility of Twilight being a future version of Buffy herself.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:49 (UTC)

That's possible - Buffy was staring directly into the Goddess's eyes, including her third eye, and Buffy's pupils were dilating. It could have awoken something inside Buffy. but I think I still prefer the idea that the goddess recognised her, and that's why she dropped her instead of eating her.

Last we saw of the Scythe, it was flying out of buffy's hand. Maybe Satsu took it? Or it might still be lying there. Maybe Buffy will call it to her hand in the first scene of 8.31?

I've given up speculating on who Twilight is. :-) We'll know soon enough.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 21:58 (UTC)
Xander by moscow_watcher

I'm glad we're right about Riley being a good guy. I would've hated it if he turned out to be bad just to please those fans who hate him. But I hope there's more to Riley's story.

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 22:33 (UTC)

I think Joss loves Riley too much to ever make him a real bad guy.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:02 (UTC)
Xander by moscow_watcher

I'm glad he does. I hate Riley-bashing, which is why I hope his creater would write him decently regardless of what many of his fans feel about him.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 5th November 2009 23:35 (UTC)
Buffy's Excalibur

I assume she's talking about the goddesses because she's realised what she'll later explain I assumed it was about both the Slayers and the Goddesses. It so mysterious that I think the duality is very intentional.

Buffy gets all emotional at seeing Xander is still alive and hugs him, rather too warmly.

I thought Jeanty completely missed the mark here (and you know I'm less inclined to criticize him than just about anyone). He made Buffy look too happy. Instead, it would have been a huge of intense relief. The smile, to me, was off-putting amidst everyone dying. Buffy would not be smiling at that moment.

For a vastly powerful supervillain manipulating people like puppets all over the world, Twilight does seem oddly unassertive with the people he spends most of his time with.

This reminds me of Angel. How Cordy and Wes would be going at it and Angel would just be in the background, unable to really stop it.

They've returned the power they were offered... but they've returned it ALL to Buffy.

Yeah, I can see this. She's Uber-uber Buffy now. It reminds me of the Shadowmen's offer to give her more power in Get it Done. What will be the cost to Buffy's humanity?

Great review. I was nodding along as I read it. And of course you pay greater attention to detail then I do, so it was nice to notice a few new things. :D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 00:02 (UTC)

I was strongly reminded of Angel too by Twilight's actions in this issue. There's the way he turns and walks away from Warren and Amy, with his coat billowing out behind him...

Thing is though, Buffy isn't necessarily über-über. She's Buffy plus Willow. Possibly plus Oz too. We don't really need the other characters any more - we can get to that smaller-sized cast Scott is talking about. Just Buffy. :-)

Though I do notice that Dwn was not one of the ones giving up her power... which means that Buffy hasn't just become the Key as well. :-) (Unless you can say she already was, because she and Dawn share the same blood...)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 03:32 (UTC)

You know, if Holtz weren't dead, I'd put him up for the Twilight crown too. Because Twilight actually feels a lot like Holtz to me (and he mirrored Angel in many ways). And we know he was an incredibly talented manipulator just like Angel.

Not that being dead means much, but I'd be able to take Holtz more seriously than Ethan as a mastermind type. Angel and Holtz feel more the calculating leaders who will sacrifice to get it done, more so than any other character. Giles, too (not that he makes sense anymore unless we're talking future possibilities). Then Wesley after them, though he's less successful at leading and manipulation. ;)

Ah, damn. I thought I'd knuckled down on the fruitless speculation.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 14:33 (UTC)
pic#85222149

Twilight is pretty clearly a future version of someone. Throughout this issue he's talking about things he can't possibly know yet.

Seems weird that he says "That goddess almost killed them" two panels before it happens... it's as if he was remembering out loud... "let's see, as I recall... that goddess almost killed them."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 15:00 (UTC)

Maybe, but I've seen nothing to make that definite. It looked to me more like we were cutting back and forth between Twilight and Buffy at the same time, so he was reacting to the thing we saw in the following panel, rather than the previous one.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 16:15 (UTC)
pic#85222149

IMO, it doesn't make much sense to have Twilight vocally react to something that doesn't happen for another half-page.

There's other stuff, too... Twilight knows ahead of time that the goddesses will turn on the Slayers, that they will move on to the next valley when they're finished, and he didn't seem at all surprised that Riley was a spy (he didn't even consider the possibility that Buffy had taken him prisoner, which would make perfect sense for her to do if she'd discovered he was working against her as a double agent.)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th November 2009 01:55 (UTC)
Re: Buffy Season 8

I don't think Buffy's enjoying the flying part yet; we know she hates heights... And I do like seeing Satsu getting cameos: even if she's not doing much, what she does do is impressive.

Posted by: itsmrgordotoyou (itsmrgordotoyou)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 16:57 (UTC)

Nice review, as always. I think your theory about the ending makes a lot of sense. (So much so that I'm annoyed that I didn't think of it myself.) Assuming you're right, this has potential to get really interesting ... but if Buffy's going to be flying on a regular basis, it could also get really annoyingly cheesy. Also, I'd feel sad for all the Slayers who lost their powers. But on the positive side, there is a lot of story potential here, and perhaps the long-sought missing link between BTVS and Fray.

Notice that the fleeing crowd includes both human soldiers and Slayers...

Hey, Slayers are human too! Was that a Freudian slip? Oh, my god. Stephen, are you ... are you Twilight?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th November 2009 01:59 (UTC)

Slayers are demons!!

Actually no, I'm not Twilight. But I know who is.

I can't imagine that Joss's twist on the big "Buffy shares her power" moment in 'Chosen' will be "And now she takes it all back again, plus Willow's too for good measure." Though I can certainly imagine she'll be tempted to keep it, even if she chooses not to in the end.

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 8th November 2009 13:37 (UTC)

I know who is.

Obviously Harmony. The apparent ditziness is all part of her clever plot, which started all the way back in high school.

All this will become evident when Twilight redecorates the headquarters with a pink unicorn theme.

:-)

Posted by: itsmrgordotoyou (itsmrgordotoyou)
Posted at: 6th November 2009 17:00 (UTC)

Hey, are you going to post your review to the Usenet group? There was a great outcry on atbvs when you didn't post your reviews of the last two issues. Well, a couple of people commented on it. If you post your review to atbvs, I promise I'll post a reply. (Not much of an incentive, I know, but the best I can offer.)

Posted by: helios_knight (helios_knight)
Posted at: 12th November 2009 22:48 (UTC)

My theory is that Twilight is in fact Buffy from the future. Somewhere down the time line Buffy ask Willow to do one more spell, to channel the magic Buffy now possesses to send her back in time to end magic once and for all. I don't think we know the reason why this is necessary yet, maybe it will be revealed in Willow's special issue? This final spell sends Buffy back, and Willow (who tapped into dark powers to do this) is left alone, immortal, and goes to to appear in "Time of Your Life".

Either that or it's Doyle. :p

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 12th July 2011 00:27 (UTC)
(Review) BtVS 8.30 'Retreat' Part 5

Great review.

At first I thought she died (again), and now she's a ghost. But after thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that the goddesses kept their part of the bargain after all. They've returned the power they were offered... but they've returned it ALL to Buffy. When Remati picked Buffy up and stared at her so closely, she presumably finally managed to recognise her as the mortal whose anger summoned her to this plane. So she gave Buffy back all the power the three goddesses had been offered since they were last summoned.

And so Buffy can now fly, because that was one of Willow's powers. Presumably Buffy is now the most powerful witch in the western hemisphere, as well as being a Slayer again. (Remember 'The Long Way Home', when Willow used magic through Buffy's eyes? Foreshadowing...) And possibly Buffy is also now a werewolf. It's an open question whether Slayer power is additive; does Buffy now have the cumulative strength of all the however-many dozens or hundreds of Slayers there were in the monastery? Or are we back to the situation of 'Welcome To The Hellmouth', with only one Slayer in all the world? Either way, it's looking like the people who wanted the spell in 'Chosen' to be reversed just got their wish. (As have the people who preferred it when Willow wasn't a witch, just a hacker...) Things just got really interesting...

Fantastic conclusion. And it's a shame that it isn't put forward as a possibility in the nest issue. Instead we have Willow's faulty conclusion.

Anyway, Riley seems to have been a useless spy. The battleground is oddly mixed. It seemed as if after Buffy jumped in the jeep they encountered more and more slayers---while they were presumably approaching the enemy line. *groans*

As for Buffy's decision to rescue the wounded soldiers. I don't get it. You're first priority is to rescue your own wounded, not those of the enemy. How many times did a slayer bleed to death because there were enemy soldiers before her in the treatment queue?

And the soldiers have now captured the remaining slayers and company. It only confirms the point that Twilights whole strategy from the beginning was to make Buffy into this superwoman. After which it wasn't necessary to kill slayers anymore.

Thanks for the review.

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