StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,

Review of Buffy 8.01

I posted this first on atbvs, and thought people here might be interested too. It's my detailed review of 'The Long Way Home' Part 1, also known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 episode 1.


I should note, firstly, that I'm not a comics fan: other than Fray and Serenity: Those Left Behind I've not read any of the Jossverse comics (and very few others in any genre). That means that technical details of art and lettering are not my forté, nor will I be drawing any comparisons to other comics. I'm approaching this review entirely as a fan of the TV show.

As such, my first thought is "Ooh! Pretty cover!" I note that Buffy's still got the Scythe, and that she's actually smiling. Which promises continuity from Season 7, but also that we (hopefully) will be moving in different directions in terms of characterisation and plot. The opening shot of sunrise and Buffy's comment confirms that.

At long last, the Buffyverse is alive again. :)

So, the initial scene is the one that was released a while back as a teaser, and so it's been pretty much discussed to death already. We start in medias res with Buffy and three other Slayers jumping out of a helicopter, all kitted out in expensive and high-tech equipment. Clearly there's a backstory here, which hopefully we'll discover, but I've got no problem in getting things started this way. Meanwhile, Buffy gives us the set-up for the people reading this who don't already know what happened on the TV show (both of them). And yeah, we get the big reveal about 'The Girl In Question'. Hee.

I note that Buffy isn't wearing a bulletproof vest like the others, just a sleeveless red top. Can anyone make out what the yellow pattern on the front is?

Fun fact #1: there are 1800 Slayers now, of whom 500 are working for Buffy's organisation (in 10 squads).

Cut to Xander (or "Mr Harris" as he's now called, rather to his discomfort.) I liked the banter between him and Renée; very cute, and shows that Xander seems to have adjusted fairly well to his new life. (Cue howls of anguish from Anya fans). There's something very
anime-like in Xander as the sole man in a control room with lots of bleeping consoles manned by young women. I wonder if they're all Slayers?

Fun fact #2: Andrew is currently in southern Italy, in charge of a squad of Slayers and under Xander's orders.

Now for the episode's big fight scene, and Buffy actually showing tactical and even (gasp) leadership abilities! Yay for her! Not to mention some assorted badassery, especially the bit with the cross.

One thing I'm not liking is all the accents. I know why it's necessary - Joss wants to get across that this is a group of people
from all over the world, and if all you have is dialogue there's no real way to do it otherwise. Still, "Yeh dinno much about religion, do yeh?" and "Vhat are you thinkink?" are a tad grating.

So, we've got a mysterious symbol, self-sacrificial victims (handy for the cultist in a rush), a high-tech forcefield in a ruined church, and a flying spy. Tune in next week...

Cut to the next scene, and apparently the US Army regards Buffy and the Slayers as dangerous terrorists. Interesting twist... of course, as soon as we see them sending investigators down into the Hellmouth Crater we know something bad's going to happen. Fairly routine, that part, I thought.

Now back to Buffy and Xander doing research - and Buffy's actually eating something, which makes a pleasant change... And apparently
Willow's gone missing, and BX don't know where she is. Presumably she's not in Rio with Kennedy, then? And Xander's still being the wise one.

Then we get to see Dawn, which is... interesting. When I first read Joss's comment that Dawn would have "grown" in the comics as a result of her first sexual encounter, I assumed (and dreaded) that she'd have a mystical pregnancy. The reality is much more funny. (Guess that S8's statutory mystical pregnancy will be in a later episode, then).

I do like the four-panel effect here, with Buffy in a different pose in each one and Dawn spread across all four. I also thought the dialogue was pretty in-character for them. Especially liked Buffy's retort about Dawn's butt looking big (and her regret afterwards, and the hints that not all is good between them) and the remark about 'since when is Willow the expert on boys?'

Incidentally, it's been questioned why Dawn's clothes grew along with her, especially if her new condition was a result of having sex with some sort of mystical being (whatever a 'thricewise' might be), in which case presumably she'd be naked at the time. My guess would be, first, "it's magic" and next, that the effect might not have happened immediately. I presume we'll find out more eventually.

Fun fact #3: Dawn is supposed to be at Berkeley. One assumes that's the University of California campus near San Francisco, and not some other Berkeley... and not Rome after all.

Final Buffy scene, and the notorious line about her missing "the sex". Given that she also says she misses her mother, it could be that she's talking about season 5 here as well; and it's Riley-sex she's missing... Or something that happened post-Chosen but pre-Scotland.
*(Sticks tongue out at Spuffistas ;) )*

And so, the end of the episode, and the mysterious government laboratory holding Amy and her 'boyfriend', who's being kept alive by magic.

I assume it's Amy the Ex-Rat (the reference to cheese is a clue) but I wouldn't have recognised her from the picture. No idea who the boyfriend is, and the floor is open for speculation. I'm even wondering if she's somehow tamed a Turok-han. Or maybe revived one or both halves of Caleb. Looks like Amy and Friend will be at least the Little Bad of the season, even if they're not the Big Bad.

Final thoughts... interesting. There are a lot of questions being floated, and a lot of storylines set in motion. I'm definitely curious to see where all this takes us.

Rating: Good.

Tags: buffy, meta, review, season 8 review
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