Previously on Season 8 (Being a synopsis of the first episode)
Buffy leads a group of Slayers in a raid on a demon nest, only to discover that their supposed human 'victims' had a mysterious symbol carved into their chests. As she and Xander puzzle over the meaning of the symbol, a military expedition led by General Voll - who knows of the Slayers and sees them as a threat - explores the ruins of Sunnydale and discovers the witch Amy Madison and her 'boyfriend' lurking there. Amy offers Voll a deal to attack their common enemy - Buffy.
ACT TWOINT. GILES' STUDY - DAY
CLOSE on a piping hot CUP OF TEA sitting on a desk. Through a window behind it we can see a RUSSIAN CITY.
>> moscow_watcherspeculated from the architecture, the lampposts, statues and so on that the city in question is St Petersburg, although there's nothing in the comic to definitely confirm this either way. Cups of tea, of course, constitute 75% of Giles's lifestory according to Spike.
I used to be a Watcher.
DISSOLVE TO:EXT. RUSSIAN CITY - DAY
Beneath the shadow of a onion-domed CHURCH, a huge crowd of GIRLS are fighting - fists, punches and kicks only, no weapons. Half of them are dressed as NINJA, the other half are in normal clothes.
>> As we will see when they take their hoods off shortly, the ninja are actually Slayers themselves. Presumably this is a training fight between two teams, one of them wearing the ninja outfits to distinguish them.
The organization existed since before there were
cities. The Watcher's Council, always moving,
always secret, but very much alive. There
were hundreds of Watchers. And one Slayer.
GILES, holding his cup of tea, steps out onto the BALCONY overlooking the crowd of fighting girls.
They stop fighting.
Scales have tipped of late.
The girls - sorry, SLAYERS - wearing ninja hoods TAKE THEM OFF as they all stop to listen to Giles' CRITIQUE.
I see some superior fighting out there.
Technique and power that might
just give Buffy Summers herself a run
for her money. Impressive force.
It is, of course, useless.
WIDEN to show the Slayers looking shocked at that.
You're all fighting alone. Getting in
each other's way, not protecting each
other's flanks... failing to use your single
most valuable asset...
>> Giles is being rather cold and distant here, although he does compliment his trainees' technique. It seems close to his season 7 persona; he behaved in much the same way with the Potentials then. On the other hand, his initial attitude to Buffy herself wasn't that different, until he realised the futility of trying to order her around and instead came to respect and love her. It seem that without her around, he tends to slip back into default Watcher mode.
CUT TO:EXT. SCOTTISH MOOR - CONTINUOUS - DAY
A green field just outside the CASTLE that serves as Slayer HQ. BUFFY, dressed in training clothes and holding a wooden PRACTICE SWORD is addressing another group of SLAYERS, including SATSU, LEAH and ROWENA.
>> Leah, Satsu and Rowena, for those losing track, were the three Slayers who formed the core of Buffy's strike team during the attack on the old church in the last episode. Incidentally, despite the castle being in Scotland, note that it isn't raining... The swords they're using are Japanese-style bokken (slightly curved with a two-handed grip - a bokken is the wooden training equivalent of a katana) which continues the Japanese theme from the ninja outfits Giles's squad were using.
...each other. One Slayer fighting alone is
formidable. Two is formidabler. Or... Three?
Mega-formidable. And after mega it goes
to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d',
crazy, stupid... it gets exponentially prefixy.
REVERSE ANGLE on her audience. Wardrobe note - SATSU has a particularly unusual and trendy HAIRSTYLE.
>>Satsu's 'Rude Girl' badge (which marks her as a fan of ska music, or perhaps she's just being literal) is the same as last episode, but now she's also wearing a 'The artist formerly known as Prince' badge. (Translation for Americans: badge = button).
Leah. Satsu. Rowena. Would the three of you
please kick my ass?
>> Let's just run that by again. A Slayer is the ultimate killing machine, the thing even monsters have nightmares about. And Buffy just outfought three of them at once without breaking a sweat. Those eight years of experience and training clearly make a big difference...
So. Three perfectly valid avenues of attack,
good form - on three seasoned, well-trained
corpses, one of whom, sidebar: has her best hair ever;
Satsu, you're making me think I need a
new look, see me after. So. Let's break this down.
The first clue this was going downhill? Clearly...
>> In light of what we learn later about Satsu's feelings for Buffy, there may be some significance to the corner-of-the-eye look she's giving her as Buffy asks her to "see me after"... Also, we know from episode #4 that Leah at least picked up on Buffy's comment about the hair and remembered it.
CUT TO:EXT. ITALIAN VILLA - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
CLOSE on ANDREW
...Lando Calrissian's outfit. And I know
a lot of you were gonna say Ewoks, but that's
A grassy field outside a villa, somewhere in the Italian mountains. There's a beautiful STARLIT SKY, and several hanging LANTERNS scattered about. A group of about THIRTY SLAYERS sit crosslegged in a circle, listening to Andrew.
I love 'Empire'. Of course I love 'Empire',
let's not waste time questioning my loyalties,
but the moment I saw Billy D. in the hizzy
I smelled the troubles. I mean it's great that
George Lucas wanted to have an African-Bespinian
character in the mix, but then he shows up
with the cape and the little bellbottoms and I'm thinking
"Oh, he'd gonna help Han and Chewie just as
soon as he finishes the magic show for the
kids' birthday party." I mean, knock knock, common
sense trying to get in, door's locked, I'll buy a race
of teddy bears with unstoppable tree-trunk technology
any day over that outfit on a leader. That outfit gets
you beat up is what, especially at a... pep rally
in Junior High when you were supposed to be dressed
like a cougar.
From a friend I heard that.
So. Does that answer your question?
TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
'Kay. What, uh, was it again?
TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
How come we have to use all this mediaeval
junk? We could totally get some guns, do
some real damage. We're fighting demons here!
Let's up the ante!
You didn't listen to a word I said, did you?
TANK GIRL LOOKALIKE SLAYER
About Lando Calrissian?
No Slayer carries a gun. Ever, end of talk, good talk.
'Kay. Let's start up with headbutts, shall we?
Some do's and don'ts.
DISSOLVE TO:EXT. SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN TARN - DAY
GIANT DAWN is having a BATH in the lake. The foaming WATER conveniently hides her nekkidness and makes this family viewing. XANDER sits on the bank, politely facing away from her. He's dressed in his favourite Sergeant Fury COMBAT GEAR.
>> Dawn appears to be using a giant-sized amount of soap to lather herself up, which will probably pollute the river and kill wildlife for miles downstream... Incidentally, the following scene mostly confirms my suspicion that Joss made Dawn a giant just so he could work in as many giant puns and one-liners as he could.
That's overstating it, don't you think?
I'm a giant. Everything I state is over.
She doesn't hate you.
She does. She hates me.
I say thee nay.
Fine. Nay. Buffy doesn't hate me. She just wishes I'd go away.
She wishes you were at Berkeley getting
an education in something other than
stomping villagers, yeah. Doesn't mean she
doesn't like having you around.
All she does is yell at me.
And you, what, recite sonnets? Sisters fight. It's a rule.
What do you know? You don't have a sister.
Have you seen this place? I got all my sisters 'n' me!
Right. Buffy and all her new and improved Slayer sisters.
Dawnie... don't roar a giant roar, but...
Did you make yourself big on purpose?
SPLOOOSH! A giant TSUNAMI WAVE of water SOAKS Xander.
You know I only have two of these outfits.
DISSOLVE TO:EXT. SECRET BASE - ESTABLISHING - DAY
The SUN SETS over a bleak desert landscape looking not totally unlike SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. There is a nondescript OFFICE BUILDING with a sign saying "DREXTALCORP RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES".
>> As we will learn in issue #4, this building is a couple of miles south of Sunnydale.
We have insertion, sir.
Two men walk down the corridor. We may recognise GENERAL VOLL and the civilian SUIT from Act 1.
INT. SECRET BASE CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS
>> They were the two men in the helicopter flying over Sunnydale Crater and then looking at Amy in her cell in the military base, remember? The Suit is carrying a briefcase, but otherwise is probably not at all related to the G-man in the Half-Life series.
Our op should be in and out by tonight.
(He presses the button on an elevator)
You know how much good 'should' does me?
You're gonna say "not much".
The glass-walled ELEVATOR descends on a pillar into the middle of a vast UNDERGROUND MILITARY BASE. It's like the Initiative on steroids. A couple of TANKS, a helicopter GUNSHIP and two MOBILE MISSILE LAUNCHERS are parked here and there around the concourse, with dozens of SOLDIERS moving around and between them.
INT. SECRET MILITARY BASE - CONTINUOUS
I'm gonna say a good goddamn deal
more than that. If we have coordinates
on that bitch we should nuke the damn site.
Yeah, okay, that's gonna get us noticed.
Then indicted, then hung.
Neither really works for me.
(in his face)
I don't expect a suit like you to have the
kind of commitment--
What if it doesn't work?
There is no problem so big or complicated
that it can't be blown up. That's not a saying
we share with the public, but...
We're dealing with magic. Leave that
to the magicians, okay? Working with
Amy - the op - is the best way to go right now.
And if she blows it? We send that monstrosity
she calls a boyfriend in next?
That thing really is gross. And yes, I think we do.
I'm gonna get some shut-eye. Wake me
with a report. Let's hope it's a good one.
INT. VOLL'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS
Just a suit. Walks and talks, has by
chance a man in it.
(Begins getting undressed)
Got no idea what's at stake here.
>> The beautiful sunset; the mark of the Twilight cult. Incidentally, Voll seems to be in charge here; and surely there can't be many US Army Generals involved in the organisation. It's therefore a reasonable guess that he's the leader of Twilight. However, we don't know that for sure; he might report to somebody even more senior who hasn't appeared yet.
DISSOLVE TO:INT. SLAYER HQ CORRIDOR - LATER - NIGHT
BUFFY and XANDER walk down a stone corridor towards the BEDROOMS.
>> So: we learn soon that some or all of this scene is actually Buffy's dream - in fact, it's an Amy-induced nightmare. So how much really takes place? The borders on the comic panels switch to black for all these three pages, including the first one in the castle corridor, then go back to white when we're back in real life. That indicates it's all a dream - but leaves open the possibility that it might be Buffy remembering a real conversation in her sleep, before the dream weirdness takes over.
You're saying you think she became a
giant to get my attention?
Maybe not consciously, but given her
tsunamic reaction, I'd say I struck a nerve.
But that's so... literal.
Not subtle, no, but: giant. Point being, Dawn's
abandonment issues have abandonment issues:
your mom, Tara, you - twice - plus the fact that
she knows she was actually a construct created
by monks who...
She's not real.
She's my sister. I've never told her anything else.
You made several thousand girls into Slayers
and moved in with them.
I'm not saying on purpose, I'm saying maybe
this Thricewise she was dating, this
feminine-hygiene-product Kenny, put a
whammy on her that manifested her internal blah de blah.
And once again, sports fans, it's all my fault.
Oh, don't go there. There smells of you,
you've been there so often. With the guilt, and--
CLOSE on BUFFY's EYES as she INTERRUPTS him.
I'm sorry. I'm tired. Just tell me now, so
we don't have to do a whole awkward-dance...
...are you coming to bed?
We can take this line in several different ways.
1) Buffy would never say such a thing while awake, but she's asleep, and there aren't any other men apart from Xander for miles, and her subconscious is getting seriously horny.
2) This is a nightmare, and Amy's spell is dredging up the things Buffy is afraid of - like falling into a really complicated quasi-incestuous sexual relationship with her best male friend just because he's available and nobody else is.
3) Buffy really is sexually attracted to/in love with (delete as applicable) Xander, and her subconscious is trying to tell her so.
4) This, like the rest of the conversation in the corridor, is an actual memory. Before going to bed this night, Buffy did ask Xander to join her. However, the fact that when we next see her in real life, she's sleeping alone - in a single bed, as well - suggests that it didn't happen. Maybe he convinced her it would be a bad idea?
Huh? And with that, she TAKES HIS HANDS and DRAWS him through the DOORWAY into her room.
It's quite an austere, old-world room as befits a Scottish castle; wooden floor with a rug, simple old-fashioned furniture, paintings on the wall. Buffy has personalised it with a display of WEAPONS hanging on one wall. There's a WINDOW with curtains here.
INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
>> Notice also that the artwork changes on this page; it's more cartoony, with the characters drawn with less detail. This is not based on an actual memory of Buffy, but purely her imagination. One of the paintings shows Little Nemo, a classic comic character created in 1905 by Winsor McCay: he was a young boy who experienced various odd adventures in his dreams while asleep, just like Buffy is doing now. (Thanks to aycheb for the reference).
Buffy, we both know what a horrible mistake that is.
I'll be gentle this time. I can be gentle.
With that, she leans in to KISS him.
No, no, I can't go outside, I'm afraid of the dark.
Buffy, you are the dark.
That's what I meant.
This lint is so Scottish.
>> This dream does have a lack of cheese references.
EXT. BUFFY'S DREAMSPACE - CONTINUOUS
I make a wish that I don't fall I make
a wish that I don't fall--
From nowhere, giant CLAWS PIERCE her hands and feet, braking her fall.
Aggh! New wish! New wish!
I know you...
The demon BREATHES FIRE at her. Buffy SCREAMS.
CUT TO:INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Back in the real world, Buffy (in a nightie) is pinned to her BED. The BEDPOSTS have magically WRAPPED THEMSELVES around her wrists and ankles. And standing above her, brandishing a SACRIFICIAL DAGGER, is AMY.
>> With her white gown and supine pose, and Amy with the dagger, this represents the classic human sacrifice tableau. Of course, Buffy isn't as defenceless as she seems, because she has family and friends to help her... It's been commented that her nightie is too skimpy to wear to bed in a draughty Scottish castle, but that's assuming that whoever installed the high tech satellite control systems and communications centre didn't also install central heating. Its old-fashioned style also matches the décor of her room.
...I couldn't bear it if this was painless.
WHAAAM! The DOOR suddenly crashes off its hinges, revealing XANDER in his pyjamas, holding a CROSSBOW. He's backed up by four SLAYERS, likewise in their sleep gear.
>> It looks like the Looney Tunes character Tweetie-pie on his pyjamas.
Amy. Long time, no desire whatsoever to see.
Wait. Wait. We can talk about this.
Buffy screams (without waking up). Xander looks horrified, then SHOOTS Amy through the shoulder. Two Slayers TACKLE Amy while Xander rushes over to Buffy.
Oh my God.
>> Presumably Amy still hit her hard enough to hurt - hence the scream - even if the blade didn't penetrate her chest.
This is the crappiest sacrificial dagger I've ever seen.
>> An indication of just how strong Amy has become. Being able to send not one but two Slayers flying and shrug off an arrow through the torso is a Dark!Willow level of power. Incidentally, her surprised and angry reaction to the dagger breaking is a sign that she really did expect to kill Buffy with it.
You really think we let Buffy sleep without
mystical protection? This isn't open-wand
night in Sunnydale, sweetcheeks. You're dealing with pros.
Any of you pros notice she's still asleep?
She's living a nightmare, genius, and the only
thing that can wake her up...
...is the kiss of true love.
Next, I think Amy's plan A was simply to stab Buffy - and, I guess, escape back to Twilight's base and wait for a vengeful Willow to come after her. If that failed, her plan B was to keep Buffy in the mystic coma as bait to draw Willow into a fight, which Amy expected to win. And if that failed, her plan C was a preset magic trap which would open a portal as soon as Willow was physically close enough to her, and pull them both back through to her base. The 'kiss of true love' bit might have been just the way the spell worked (compare the 'perfect happiness' clause on Angel's soul curse, which offers a remarkably similar way to break that spell). Alternatively, Amy might have been counting on lots of confusion and delay as different people tried to break the spell - and as I speculated above, the whole thing was really just to distract everyone until Willow showed up. And lastly, Amy might have leaped to comclusions about Willow, and assumed that sheherself would be the one to kiss Buffy, in which case she was sure to turn up sooner or later.
Or, of course, she might just enjoy messing with people.
DISSOLVE TO:EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - MEANWHILE - NIGHT
RENEE and a BRUNETTE SLAYER are on GUARD DUTY; warmly dressed and holding big weapons.
Please. There's no love.
No, right, of course. The sudden interest in
comic books, James Bond movies and drywalling
has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Harris. I'm
not even bringing up volunteering us for the
frickin' graveyard shift, 'cause that's--
You hear that?
Sounds like... clawing?
A VAST HORDE of ZOMBIES is CLIMBING the castle wall. There's at least 50, with more behind them. Most of them are dressed in TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH GARB, mostly from many centuries before.
>> Presumably they're locals. One is wearing a Grenadier's cap.
DISSOLVE TO:INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - MEANWHILE - NIGHT
Buffy's still asleep and pinned to her bed. Xander and Amy confront each other over her.
So this doesn't have to be someone
she's in love with.
No, I said. Just someone truly in love with her.
But not friend-love.
Right. Someone who wants to kiss her, like,
they're passionate about her.
And not a sister.
Well, a twisted sister...
Ha! But no, I hate you.
We're under attack! Full breach on the east wall!
Living dead, sir!
(To Amy, who's grinning)
Man, Amy, you're doing all the classics tonight.
(To the other Slayers)
I need you three in the field.
What about th' Bitch a'the West here?
She's bound by our security or she'd've
bailed by now.
(To another Slayer)
Keep a guard on her and get our
witches working on this 'true love' crap.
It's real, Xander. Your star player's out unless
she receives a kiss from someone passionately devoted to her.
Care to give it a whirl?
>> Note the little beads of sweat on his forehead.
EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - NIGHTThe BATTLE is in full flow. SLAYERS and Scottish ZOMBIES locked in mortal combat.
EXT. BUFFY'S DREAMSPACE - MEANWHILEAll is black here. BUFFY, in her NIGHTDRESS, is curled in a FOETAL POSITION.
>> Notice how the frame around these three panels changes to black, whereas the other panels all have white frames? That supports the theory that Buffy and Xander's earlier conversation was also completely a dream, because no other panels except for those have black frames in this issue.
Please... it hurts too much...
You can't give up that easily, Buffy...
She looks up to see a MAN standing over her, OFFERING HER HIS HAND. He's dressed in a black leather COAT and red t-shirt; his face is obscured.
>> Oh, the speculation this figure inspired, before we learned next issue that it's actually Ethan Rayne (dressed rather like Spike, admittedly)...
I have so much I need to show
you... my love...
EXT. CASTLE BATTLEMENTS - MEANWHILE - NIGHTThe BATTLE rages. SATSU stabs a zombie while speaking to XANDER over her RADIO.
'Kill the head' isn't working! They're
not even slowing down!
INT. CONTROL ROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTXANDER is looking at the VIEWSCREENS. They're showing CARNAGE, except for one which shows RENEE lying there either unconscious or dead. He's CLUTCHING HIS BROW, unable to speak.
SATSU (by radio)
Orders, sir? Orders?
INT. BUFFY's BEDROOM - MEANWHILE - NIGHTAMY sits casually on the WINDOWSILL, watching the battle outside and chatting to the SLAYER assigned to guard her.
All that time underground with nothing
to do but get stronger. A hundred
Slayers and there's not one person here
who can take me on.
As a friend of mine once said...
EXT. OUTSIDE THE CASTLE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTIt's WILLOW. Wearing a wiccan-y green dress, silhouetted against the FULL MOON. Oh, and she's also FLOATING IN MID AIR.
...I'd like to test that theory.
>> Willow's dress is very similar to what Tara wore in 'Once More With Feeling', but not identical. I think it's just meant to look Wicca-y. Also, in this picture her eyes are greeny-brown, just as they should be. :-)
>> With Willow's appearance, we've now seen all the regular cast characters from 'Chosen' who survived that episode: Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn.
FADE TO BLACK
END OF ACT 2.