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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... 

Comments

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)

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.

True. But they already did the back-from-death depression in s6, and frankly, both Ethan turning up and Warren being back has a faint aroma of deus ex machina and lazy fanfic to me. Of course we haven't seen the plot line all the way through yet, but... as much as I like most things about the comics (and I really do) I'm not yet completely convinced that Joss is still as much on the "inside" of these characters as he used to be. Bringing Tara back would be exactly what a lot of squeeing fans would like, and... actually, considering his snarky treatment of the Spuffy/Bangel thing, it's one of the things that keeps me hoping he won't do it: simply to spite us. ;-)

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

Ethan was always a recurring character who'd disappear for a season or two then pop up again, though - it's entirely possible for him to do so now. As for Warren, I'll suspend judgement until I've seen another episode or two and know what Joss plans for him. (And, for that matter, how he's back at all).

I'm not suggesting that the plotline for a returned character (such as Tara) would be a repeat of Buffy's story in S6. However, there are other things they could do with it. After all, getting Tara back would once have been the single, absolute, dearest wish of Willow's life. A world without Tara was a world she felt had no right to continued existence. So imagine just how scary it would be for her if Tara did come back, and Willow realised she no longer felt that way? That Tara's presence was, if anything, rather awkward now?

I'm not saying that's a story Joss is likely to give us, but it would certainly be fascinating. And probably lead to him receiving death threats.

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

Ethan was always a recurring character who'd disappear for a season or two then pop up again, though

Oh, naturally. And normally I'd be happy to see him back; love the guy to bits, and he's great in #3. It's just that... well, so far it all seems a bit rushed to me. Throwing Ethan, Amy and Warren in there is like the first thing people do when they write their first post-s7 fanfic; it's been done.

I guess most of my still-nagging doubts can boil down to this: why is Joss doing s8? There was always a point to BtVS beyond "let's see what happens to these characters next". As with any good writer, Joss always had a purpose, something he wanted to say using certain characters and certain plot lines. And using the same old villains, revisiting the same old themes, makes it all feel a bit bass-ackwards to me; creating a story for the same characters rather than creating or re-using characters that fit a new story. I guess that's part of what makes it difficult for me to give a crap about the whole canon-not-canon debate; I'll adress that once I see whether Joss really has something up his sleeve rather than, to quote many a fanfic disclaimer, playing with his own toys until he needs them again.

But hey, it's early days yet. I guess that's what's so frustrating about the slow release tempo... We're only 30 minutes into 8.01. And the season premiere was NEVER the strongest episode of the season.

(BTW, there are actually a few fanfics like the one you outline around - though not many, obviously, considering the fanaticisim of most W/T-shippers. Wolfkin's Coma, for instance.)

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)

No not alone. Quite a lot of people think this way. But it is a comic legacy that Joss seems to have.

One of the things I loved about early Buffy was the palpable danger that was missing from things such as TNG. After he killed Jenny whevever the characters went into danger I was worried they would die.

Then he changed started hanging onto characters who should be gone. So no I think Joss is not above that.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th May 2007 16:46 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

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,
Oh I know that feeling. Wesley is one of my favourite *ever* characters (love Tara of course, but Wesley is special), but since most of my fic is post-NFA stuff I hardly ever write him, which I'd love to do. But I won't bring him back just because I like writing him...

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.
Sadly yes. Although I'm hoping for some sort of major badness to come from his revival - Amy must have been messing with seriously black mojo for a start... And the other thing is that although Willow feels bad about being a murderer, there's the fact that she doesn't feel all that bad for killing this *particular* man. "I killed him for a reason!" she tells Kennedy in 'The Killer in Me', and that might just be my favourite line in the whole episode. If this storyline gets Willow to examine herself more, I'd be v. happy - but I'm not sure it can be done satisfyingly deeply in comic book format. *sigh*

Actually as long as she's not in love with Buffy, I'm quite intrigued with Willow. Her line about her and Kennedy 'being on a break' (not direct quote, since I don't have the comics in front of me) was very close to how she described her and Tara's 'break' in 'Smashed').

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

Although I'm hoping for some sort of major badness to come from his revival Major badness other than the fact that he's walking about with no skin??!? :)

To me, Warren's reappearance isn't 'cheapening his death', it's more like the classic pulp fiction trope of a recurring villain who is surely killed at the end of one story, only to reappear large as life and twice as ugly in the next to threaten our heroes one more time.

My only concern is, like you say, that I hope Joss uses Warren to give us a deeper insight into Willow, rather than just for the shock value of him being someone she has reason to hate/feel guilty over.

And for the record:
"Guys, it's okay. It's hard, but - but it's better this way, believe me. Little things started taking over, things that don't matter, but we saw
them differently, and so they got blown out of proportion. The time apart is gonna help us sort through that. Really."

"We're just taking it slow for a while. She's sort of in her own space, but it's cool."

Not sure if it's really the same - Willow here seems pretty together about things, not completely in denial as she was in 'Smashed'. It reminded me more of Kennedy's reaction to Willow's spell in 'Get It Done'.

(Incidentally, I always wondered about that scene. W and K have an awkward conversation in the corridor upstairs; Kennedy doesn't want to talk about it, she shrugs Willow off and says she'll see her in the morning. All very well.. but aren't they supposed to be sleeping in the same bedroom? So Kennedy going off to be on her own will have Willow coming into to join her again in another couple of minutes... :) Maybe the fade to black at the end of the episode, with Willow sat on Buffy's bed, covers up W asking B if she can crash with her that night?)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th May 2007 10:50 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Not sure if it's really the same - Willow here seems pretty together about things
Yeah, you're probably right. But this is where the comics are just inadequate - if this was on-screen AH's delivery, manners and behavior would clearly indicate if things really *are* cool, or if something went wrong.

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

I dunno - it seems clear enough to me. She's definitely being avoidy about what happened while she was off, but her constant repetition of "we'll talk about it" suggests that it's complicated and difficult, not that it's something she's refusing to think about.

Apart from that, she's pretty much her normal self - teasing Xander, joking with Buffy and giving her a hug, big-sistering Dawn (I nearly said 'mothering', but that's more a Tara thing), being geeky about magic, speaking to Amy the way she spoke to Faith in 'Choices'. She's definitely got her self-confidence back, and shows no hesitation in telling other people what to do. On the downside, she also seems to have underestimated Amy rather badly, and seems rather blasée about going black-eyed and veiny during the magic duel - "It'll fade". (I'm reminded a little of Oz's return in 'New Moon Rising' having supposedly mastered his werewolf nature.)

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