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'The Long Way Home' - what does it mean?

6th May 2007 (14:19)
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I've been wondering about the title 'The Long Way Home', and what it might refer to. I suppose we'll find out in a month's time, but in the meantime, here are three ideas.

1) It's literal. After travelling around the world, in the next issue Buffy and Xander will return to Sunnydale. Willow may already be there, depending on where Amy's taken her. I assume that's the military base where the Twilight Cult was holding her prisoner, but I don't know if that's near the ruins of Sunnydale, or elsewhere. Perhaps Nevada, based on Riley's line in 'A New Man' :

"They'll take Mr. Rayne to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert. I'm sure he'll be rehabilitated in no time."

That, of course, assumes that Ethan's being held prisoner in the same base as Amy.

2) A character who was gone from the show (and the world) long ago will return. Well, obviously Warren already has, but I doubt that he's who the title is about. So perhaps someone else will return from the dead? Maybe Joyce, or Jenny, or Tara? All of whom have been the subject of speculation, because of the image of Buffy's dreamspace. (And because of wishful thinking too, probably. :) )

For some reason the idea of it being Tara keeps recurring to me: mostly, I think, because Joss has already brought back Warren, thus reminding us of the events at the end of season 6. Also, whatever power brought Warren back could perhaps bring Tara back too? Or maybe the fact of him being alive and walking around after what happened to him has disturbed the balance of the universe, and made the resurrection of Tara possible when it couldn't be done earlier. Other clues would be the fact that Kennedy is conveniently off-camera, and the persistent rumours that Joss wanted to bring back Tara in season 7 but was unable to for whatever reason.

Of course, this being the Whedonverse, if Tara did come back Willow would realise she's not in love with her anymore (maybe because she's in love with Buffy now!), or something equally angsty... :)

Other possibilities might be Spike or Angel, if they did die at the end of 'Not Fade Away'. Of course, that would assume that Joss was lying when he said that contractural obligations mean he can't use either of them as main characters in season 8. And Joss never lies to us!

But if this is the explanation for the story title, I'm going to predict that the last line of issue #4 is some variation on "You're back, sweetie! Welcome home!"

3) Something will turn full circle and bring us back to where we were at the very start of the show. In this context, I'm thinking of the Buffy/Xander romance, which was a big feature of season 1. Except perhaps this time it will be reciprocal.

Or perhaps it will be reversed. Buffy will realise that she's in love with Xander - her subconscious is already hinting at this - but this time it'll be Xander who falls in love with someone else. Probably Renee. Thus, we still get lots of relationship angst (a necessary component of any Buffy the Vampire Slayer story), but in the opposite direction to season 1.

I know I've been assuming - along with most other people - that the B/X elements we're being given are so obvious that they must be a misdirect... but perhaps we're actually over-thinking things and being too clever. After all, if Joss's aim was to set up a relationship between the two of them, I can't see what he would do differently to the story we're already being given... so maybe the simple explanation is the true one? There's a lot of references to both of them feeling lonely (and/or sexually deprived), and perhaps the punchline to the story will be someone like Willow (or Dawn?) getting them both to recognise what's right under their noses... 


Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 14:21 (UTC)

Yep could be all of those.

I've already postulated number 3 in my review of issue 2 but I think it is actually a total misdirect and that Joss will park Xander with Renee.JW doesn't have the guts to do B/X. If it does occur I agree it will be a reverse of the season 1 storyline just for the angst. as i said a Ross/Rachel S1-2 rerun.

On Spike & Angel here I think JW will just use them to mess with the fanbase. Or to reinforce his crap message that only people with superpowers can understand those with superpowers.

Definitely think Tara will play some part. Part of my problem with the comics so far is that he is not doing anything new just revisiting old themes and digging over their bones.I would have been happier if he had tried something completely new. Warren, Amy , Ethan (instead of Rack) means we are revisting S6 themes.

As for Willow being romantically attracted to Buffy god I hope not as she would know there is nil chance of the feelings being returned. Plus I prefer the Willow thumping her friends into seeing the obvious as that would really make me like Willow again. It would reinforce the core 4 rather than breaking it up again.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:03 (UTC)

While I'm a lot more positive about the comics that you, I do agree that the Core Four dynamic needs to be strengthened - but I get the impression Joss is trying to do that with the comics after losing some of his focus in the later seasons of the TV show. And yes, Willow 'thumping sense into the others' would be a good way to do that.

Introducing new themes and characters is always going to be a problem for the comics - because it's a new medium for a lot of readers, I think he needs to be cautious about introducing lots of new elements all of a sudden, and instead give us familiar faces while introducing new people and organisations bit by bit.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:26 (UTC)

Sort of agree with you on the new theme stuff how it can be more difficult in comics. So here the medium might be working against him. But he also seems to be using it to do ideas he wouldn't have the budget to do which is sometimes good but generally seems to be bad with JW.

Saw your deprotaganization comment further down. Yep a triangle with Renee would do that one of the reasons I don't like it. I felt that the first three issues had too much deprotoganization of Buffy and too much focus on Willow already. Straight B/X with a slow build over the whole 50 issues I would like maybe ending with a skateboard scene.

I think he is trying to repair the core four. At the moment though that seems to be by resetting the characters to a early S4 base. Feels a little unearned.

As for Tara I personally really hope he doesn't as not a fan of the character plus it would cheapen death as you say. But a dreamscape or flashback or vision would work for me as she is very important to Willow.

But it is early and whilst I haven't really enjoyed them I prepared currently to give them the benefit of the doubt at least until say 12 issues in.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:26 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:37 (UTC)

Posted by: Easily distracted fangirl. (cursedfire)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 14:22 (UTC)

I don't know but the idea of B/X romance is creepy IMO :(

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:05 (UTC)

Maybe it is to them as well, and that will be one of the storylines of season 8. :)

Posted by: Easily distracted fangirl. (cursedfire)
Posted at: 8th May 2007 17:12 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 14:49 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Lots of interesting thoughts. I hope Tara doesn't come back (just like I hope S6 won't bring back Wesley). I love them both dearly (and Anya and Jenny etc), but bringing them back to life would cheapen their deaths.

Also I'll be happy as long as Spike & Angel stay in their own comic book (not for the slashy stuff btw, but I think their story is far removed from Buffy's at this point and should stay like that) and that we get neither B/X or B/W - I hate it when good friendships are ruined. (Not that the comics are canon of course, but... I'd like to be able to *enjoy* this story!)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:15 (UTC)

I think that bringing back Tara (or anyone else) would only cheapen her death if it pressed the big Reset Button, and everything went back to the way it was before and she and Willow lived happily ever after.

Obviously, I doubt that would happen even if she did return.

One thing Joss talks about a lot in his commentaries is the concept of 'earning something back'. If the writers intervene with a deus ex machina to give the characters something they want, then they've got to pay for the good karma with a whole lot of misery and plot complications. Ressurecting Buffy in S6 is the classic (and highly relevant) example - instead of saying "Oops! She was dead, now she's alive again, let's carry on exactly as before" we got a whole season of misery, depression, existential doubt and kinky sex with Spike. Everything has consequences.

I don't think a romantic relationship should automatically ruin a friendship, but maybe that's just me... :) My only big hesitation with the "Buffy loves Xander but Xander loves Renee" storyline I posited would be that it deprotagonises Buffy, makes her look weak and an object of pity rather than the star of her own show. Which would be bad, and alienate a lot of readers.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:31 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:22 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 18:54 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:23 (UTC)

I hope Tara doesn't come back (just like I hope S6 won't bring back Wesley). I love them both dearly (and Anya and Jenny etc), but bringing them back to life would cheapen their deaths.

THANK YOU. Sometimes I think I'm the only one in the entire fandom who thinks like that. I still can't watch "Seeing Red" or "Not Fade Away" without my inner fanchild cringing and praying to Joss that it will be different this time, but seriously - there's a limit to how many times you can undo death before it all becomes yawnsville, and Joss is already pushing that with Warren's return. I want to care whether these people live or die; that becomes increasingly difficult every time someone is brought back to life. When you undo a pivotal event - a character death, an unforgivable crime, whatever - it's so easy for it to go into the Bobby-Ewing-steps-out-of-the-shower thing and completely negate all the drama and character development that followed. And frankly, I hope Joss is above that.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:32 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:46 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:43 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 10:50 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 11:58 (UTC)

Posted by: Kathi (imacrusader)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 14:52 (UTC)

I would actually think that it is more abstract. Like they have all been uprooted by losing their home and lives (sort of) and now they have to find their place in the world again. They have to make new homes, maybe even discover new sides to themselves, grow up and such.

And yeah I just pray to the God of the graphic novel that there won't be a Xander/Buffy ship. She really doesn't need a third love of her life deal and it would to me ruin a perfect platonic relationship and turn it into a soap-opera.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:21 (UTC)

That's a good suggestion, although to me "the long way home" suggests you're going on a long journey to get back to where you started from, rather than building a new home afresh. But maybe it's more about returning to their state of mind in the early seasons - not specifically in terms of a B/X romance, but more generally in the sense of having community and stability and so forth.

I'm fairly neutral on whom, if anyone, Buffy should be romantically involved with - but saying she should never have another love of her life seems to be going a bit far to me. :) I wouldn't want the poor girl to have to be permanently celibate at the age of 23...

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:35 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:15 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:23 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:52 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:57 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 18:37 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 12:01 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 12:32 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 15:51 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 16:08 (UTC)

Posted by: Kathi (imacrusader)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 14:53 (UTC)

Posted by: yourlibrarian (yourlibrarian)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:35 (UTC)

Interesting theories all. I'm guessing it's some combination thereof. I can only assume that everything is not going to be wrapped up in this fourth issue but will continue on in future ones.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 17:53 (UTC)

I'd certainly hope so.. although given that the title 'The Long Way Home' is, as far as I know, only being applied to issues 1 - 4, I think we need to get some sort of resolution to this specific question next issue.

Unless I'm wrong and TLWH applies to the entire season 8, of course...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 20:38 (UTC)

I hope it's literal. Somehow Hellmouth has regenegated into something different, maybe positive, maybe mixed, and The New Initiative tries to use it. Buffy will stop their plans and will help to restore the town and use the energy of Heavenmouth for greater good.

As to ships, they are the strongest element of Buffyverse, so, if Joss wants to succeed, he has to push them. And he already does. Willow's secretly in love with Buffy, who's dreaming about Xander, who, in turn, is flirting with Renee...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 11:45 (UTC)

Interesting idea... 'Heavenmouth'? Not sure how it fits into the general cosmology, but if the original Hellmouth was a weak spot between the dimensions, the disruption in 'Chosen' could have shifted it, so now it's a weak spot to somewhere else...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 16:59 (UTC)

I'm trying to think in out-of-the-box manner. In the end of season 7 Joss one-upped previous finales by making Buffy not only destroy the Big Bad but also changing the world. By doing so, he upped the ante, and to make the next season successful he needs again something global, something that may at least be equal to the s7 finale. As to Buffyverse general cosmology, it's so fluid that such master as Joss can easily make the new situation convincing. Hey, many fanfics did that already and it's a given that diehard fans are always emotionally and ideologically ahead of the story.

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