StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,

(Meta) - The Long Way Home #3 - annotated

Well, I got Part Three done a bit sooner than anticipated. :-)

Previously on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer':
Everyday routine at Slayer HQ is disrupted as Amy launches her attack. Summoning an army of zombies as a diversion, she places Buffy into an enchanted sleep of nightmares from which only the kiss of true love could wake her. Her immediate attempt to kill Buffy is foiled by Xander; but it's a stand-off as none of the Slayers can hurt Amy. The battle against the zombies is going badly, Buffy is out of action, and all seems lost - until Willow makes her entrance.



The background is SOLID BLACK. BUFFY is now wearing the same NIGHTDRESS she's currently wearing in real life. The MAN from ACT 2 still holds out his HAND towards the camera. 

>> In the first part of her dream, Buffy was wearing a denim jacket, white top, black leather trousers and fur-lined calf-high boots. Now, though, she's in an old-fashioned nightie. As in issue #2, the pages which take place in Buffy's dreamspace have different coloured borders to the other pages.

'My love'. He called me 'My love'.

ON BUFFY looking nauseous

BUFFY (V.O.)(cont'd)
And then I threw up in my mouth a little.
(Out loud)
Ethan Rayne?


In the flesh, my love.

And again, a slight barflex. You
have to stop calling me that.

It's an expression, pet. Like 'pet'.

Also not okay. How did you get in my dream?

>> Funny how Buffy reacts so violently when Ethan uses the same terms of endearment that Spike regularly used... As a note, in some parts of Britain it's perfectly normal for total strangers to address each other as 'pet'; it's just a sign of friendly informal politeness.

We haven't oodles of time.

You're a Chaos-worshipping wannabe sorcerer
who takes up none count it none of my
subconscious. Which means you forced
your way into my dream.

>> I take it that's exposition for people who've forgotten who Ethan is... he hasn't appeared since 'A New Man' in season 4 when he was being taken away by the Initiative. (RILEY: "They'll take Mr. Rayne to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert. I'm sure he'll be rehabilitated in no time.") In fact, though, we learn later that Ethan is actually being held in California, near Sunnydale - not Nevada. Of course, a lot could have happened in the intervening four years.

I just hitched a ride. And we're not
in your dream. We're in your dreamspace.

Splainy. Dreamspace?

In brief. You are always dreaming every dream
you could dream all the time. Even when
you're awake, a part of your brain is stirring that
brew. Which one you choose to remember
in the morning is based on wishes, anxieties -
in your case, your collective Slayer memory and
prophecies are mixed in as well. It's a
vast and fascinating place. Everywhere you turn,
a part of you.

>> This may be a deliberate reminder for readers that all Slayers share the same collective memories; it's possible the point may arise later in the season. Although the TV show didn't make a big thing of it (except in the Angel episode 'Damage'), the original film shows Buffy re-living the lives of previous Slayers in her dreams when she is first called; and in 'Fray', the same idea is expressed to Melaka Fray. 

He PEELS BACK part of the black background like a CURTAIN, letting BRILLIANT WHITE LIGHT shine through.

ETHAN (cont'd)
Want to see one?

REVEAL a fantastical landscape. BUFFY wearing a NURSE's UNIFORM (complete with NAMETAG) lies sandwiched between a NAKED ANGEL and SPIKE, EMBRACING them both. Their three bodies are wrapped in CHAINS, while they are surrounded by STAKES hanging over CRIMSON AND WHITE ORCHIDS. Behind them, a giant VOLCANO is ERUPTING while two TRAINS are both heading towards TUNNELS (one on either side of the volcano). Three cute little CUPIDS watch the scene. 

>> Buffy's sexual fantasy has probably been analysed more than any other page in the comic but one. A few notes: the nurse's uniform may refer to her teasing comment to Riley in 'Family': "Well, this earns you a very big favour. There could be outfits." As for the chains, we saw Spike bringing out the handcuffs in 'Dead Things', and Buffy was rubbing her wrists in her conversation with Tara later that episode. And when Joyce visited Angel in 'The Prom', she looked meaningfully at the chains hanging on Angel's wall as she gave him the "you're not the right man for Buffy" speech - although as far as I can recall, the only person actually to chain Buffy up in them was Faith... The flowers, stakes, volcano, trains and tunnels should all hopefully be obvious symbolism (and I make no comment about the fact that the two trains are apparently heading for different tunnels simultaneously). What's unclear is whether Buffy knows Angel and Spike's current status - dead or 'alive'. 

Buffy hastily pulls the CURTAINS closed again.

Gak! Neh! Ho. No. That's nothing... worth...
(small voice)
It's just... ah, been a slow year...

>> "Slow year" is a phrase that Buffy will remember later. It does imply that she and Xander aren't an item, if that was in doubt after last issue. Notice that Buffy's comment about "a slow year" is written in a smaller font size than the normal speech balloon text, and has more empty white space around it - this is a comics convention to show that she's saying it quietly. Incidentally, Ethan has his back to her here - it's possible that he didn't even look at her fantasy, which would be quite gentlemanly of him if true.

You've been trapped in this space. Not
by me. But we've got to move fast
if you're going to be any help on the outside.

What's going on outside?


We're HIGH IN THE AIR above Slayer HQ. The BATTLE between SLAYERS and ZOMBIES from Act Two is still raging, the figures looking tiny from this height. In the foreground, WILLOW and AMY are engaged in a MAGICAL DUEL, flying high above the earth and sending beams of coloured MAGICAL ENERGY at each other. Willow's magic is GREEN and organically curved; Amy's is BLUE and mechanically angular. 

>> Hence Willow's later comment about "her magic reeked of tech."

Oh man, this craft is weak. Didn't you
almost destroy the world one time?
(deflecting Willow's energy blast)
Now you can't even put up a fight!
(Sending a big spell towards Willow)
What happened?

ON WILLOW, as Amy's spell sends hundred of BLACK BUGS crawling up her body. 

>> Similar to one of the trials Lurky inflicted on Spike during his soulquest. Notice how calm Willow is throughout.

I saw the big picture. But, you, Amy... you're
as self-involved as your Mom was. You think
I'm fighting you.

>> Reminder for those who've forgotten B1:03 'The Witch': Amy's mother Catherine was obsessed with re-living her glory days as a high school cheerleader; and when Amy failed to get onto the Sunnydale High cheerleading squad, Catherine stole her body through magic and used it to literally become a teenager again, while Amy was imprisoned in her mother's body. 

CLOSE on Willow's EYES 

>> Which are now blue, not greeny-brown as they were on the TV show. Continuity error, or unexplained plot point for later?

WILLOW (cont'd)
I'm just absorbing your mojo. So I
can decode it.

>> It seems that Willow's sensitivity to magic has grown to the extent that she can now understand the nature of spells being cast around her simply by studying them for a while. This then gives her the knowledge to undo Amy's zombie-summoning spell in a single action - rather than, say, having to individually blast each zombie in turn. 

Willow THROWS BACK HER HEAD and a giant ENERGY BLAST shoots from her feet and HITS THE GROUND, sending shockwaves rippling over the castle.



A wounded SLAYER clutches her arm as a ZOMBIE raises its SWORD for the killing blow, when the waves from Willow's spell hit him...
...and he throws aside his sword and smiles, gesturing politely.

May I have this dance?


The VIEWSCREENS show the same scene happening everywhere: ZOMBIES dropping their weapons and asking SLAYERS to dance. A jubilant XANDER grins and gestures towards them.

Ladies and other ladies... the
indescribable Rosenberg.



The army was the pressing issue.
Light show's a distraction.

But Amy conjures a silvery GLOWING BALL.

So's the army.

>> Telling contrast here. Willow's first concern is stopping the army of zombies who are killing people (we learn later that several Slayers died in the battle). Amy couldn't care less about them - they're just a diversion, and she only cares about fighting Willow. 

And Willow is KNOCKED BACK, her body PIXELLATING like the image on a scratched DVD. 

>> Another spell that "reeks of tech".



You're lying. That can't be happening!

Buffy lies astonished as MULTIPLE IMAGES from her subconscious flow past her and Ethan. In the largest a TEENAGE BUFFY walks through a school corridor with her two FRIENDS. 

>> I'm assuming the boy is Xander, though it's not a definite identification. Logically then the girl would be Willow, but she looks even less like her - and might actually be Cordelia instead.

But I finished school! Why do I have to
take French again?

>> "Je suck" as Buffy once told Willow.

Exams are today.

As they TUMBLE past, Buffy tries to stop.

Oh! I always have this one! Can we
stop and delete this one?

I told you, lamb: time is a factor.

They plunge past more IMAGES FROM BUFFY'S MEMORIES. 

>> This is probably the most-analysed page. The recognisable scenes include Buffy and Giles in the library in early season 1; one of Buffy's school notebooks; high school graduation; Buffy finding her mother dead in 'The Body'; the finale of 'Chosen'. Other people shown include Angel, Faith, Caleb, Dawn and Joss himself; several other pictures are still subject to debate.

Your enemy's opened her flank a bit.
Interfering with someone's dreamstate
means attaching a bit of one's own.

They land on a hard surface.

There's a memory here we need.


Willow struggles in the grip of Amy's pixellation spell. Then her EYES AND HAIR TURN BLACK, and WWHHMMP! She sends a devastating bolt of magic back at Amy, who REELS BACK - but doesn't look too worried yet. 

>> When she's in serious trouble, Willow draws on her anger and dark magic to protect herself and strike back at Amy. This ties into the message of 'Get It Done': she was reluctant to use her most powerful magic then because she knew how it would affect her - which made Buffy angry: "You want to surprise the enemy? Surprise yourselves. Force yourselves to do what can't be done." Did Willow deliberately choose to use the black magic here, or did she lose control?

Now you're starting to make this interesting.
What else you got?

>> Well, she's got a 50-foot tall woman, for a start...


CLOSE ON XANDER, as he CUPS HIS HAND to his ear.

Say it with me now: fe fi fo...


GIANT DAWN looms above Amy, the sole of her TRAINER poised to crush her.

...fucking fum.

>> Technically she says "f%$#ing", but I think we all know what she meant. "Fe fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread!" is the giant's line from the English folktale (and pantomime) "Jack and the Beanstalk". Incidentally, this now elevates Dawn to my personal select pantheon of "Buffyverse characters who use real swear-words", alongside Faith. 

SMLOOOSH! Amy is crushed into the MUD. Willow, still BLACK-HAIRED, starts working more MAGIC on her as she talks to Dawn. 

>> You can see brown gobbets of mud flying up around Dawn's foot as she stomps on Amy - implying that she was squashed down into soft mud rather than being crushed.

Language, sweetie. How come you're a giant?

>> "Language, sweetie" is quite a motherly thing to say... Also, after seven years in Sunnydale it seems nothing can surprise a Scooby Gang member anymore. :-)

We totally have to talk. Are you evil again?

It'll fade.

And indeed her hair has TURNED RED again. She hovers in the air beside Dawn as she enchants a STASIS BOX around the unconscious Amy. 

>> Willow's hair is black in one frame, red in the next. She seems confident that once she's back in control of her emotions, the effects of the dark magic will likewise fade away. (Whether she's right to be so confident, of course, is not an issue that this particular story addresses).

WILLOW (cont'd)
She just really pissed me off.

>> Perhaps here I should sum up the events of this battle, in chronological sequence.
1) (Possibly) - Buffy and Xander discuss Dawn's problems before each going to bed.
2) Amy teleports into the castle and casts a spell on Buffy locking her into her dreamspace until she receives the kiss of true love. She also summons an army of zombies to attack the castle.
3) Xander and some Slayers are warned what's going on by the castle's mystical defences, and burst in, confronting Amy.
4) Meanwhile, Renee (on guard duty) spots the attacking zombies and sends another Slayer to warn Xander while she fights them.
5) Xander leaves some Slayers to guard Amy, sends the others to help fight the zombies, and goes to the control room.
6) The battle doesn't go well. Renee is wounded.
7) Willow shows up, and fights a magical battle with Amy.
8) Willow decodes Amy's spell and turns the zombies friendly.
9) Dawn intervenes in the fight and stuns Amy. Willow can then cast a spell on her to keep her in stasis.
10) (Presumably) - the Slayers help the wounded (including Renee) into the castle infirmary. Willow ensures that Amy is safely stored in the dungeon. Then Xander tells her what's happened to Buffy, and they all convene in Buffy's room.



>> OK, time to explain what seems to be going on here. Ethan is imprisoned, and he doesn't know where he is. Although his body may be trapped, though, he's a powerful warlock and he can send his dream-self out. He sensed Amy's presence (as we later find out, she's pretty much in the cell next to his), although he didn't know who she was. She also sensed his presence. Anyway, it seems that Ethan was able to find his way into Amy's dreamspace. When Amy cast the nightmare spell on Buffy, she inadvertently linked her own dreamspace to Buffy's. Ethan slipped through into Buffy's subconscious to ask for her help. 

RED BARS curve up against the BLACKNESS as Buffy looks around her. 

This is what you wanted to show me?
Along those lines, what is this?

No... we've gone too far back.

REVEAL that they're in a giant RAT CAGE, with an EXERCISE WHEEL (the red bars) and SHREDDED PAPER on the floor. 

>> It seems they're no longer in Buffy's dreamspace; Ethan has led her through into Amy's dreamspace. They've "gone too far back" because this is Amy's memories of two years earlier; what he wants is her current memories, which will give a clue to where she is now (and, by extension, where he is too). Incidentally, the fact that Amy's subconscious appears to be dominated by her time as a rat is a telling detail. As we'll learn in #4, Buffy's trip through Amy's subconscious here also seems to have taught her some of Amy's weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Whoah, whoah... I know all this.
This is Amy's cage. Amy's doing this?

I didn't know her name. I can't see
outside myself. But I connected with her,
and she saw me. I think you're here. Walk around.

The CAGE has gone; now Buffy is in a kind of RED-LIT CAVERN. The walls are ORGANIC and curvy, like the inside of a giant animal. A dead HUMANOID PIG-CREATURE with a battleaxe lies on the ground. 

>> It looks like a Gamorrean from Star Wars; not sure if that has any meaning. The walls look rather like something H R Giger might have designed.

Nice place. I'm starting to miss my giant dragon.

REVEAL Ethan, who's now standing inside a FRAMEWORK made up of three X-SHAPED BEAMS.

So what are you doing in there?

Where am I?

Cage. Crossbeams, like X's. So this
all, what, means something?
(she thinks hard)
Three X's. Triple X. So it's either Vin
Diesel or porn, neither of which is real attractive.

>> xXx was a 2002 action film starring Vin Diesel as an athlete recruited by the government for a secret mission.

I'm more an antique Roman than a Dane.

>> That's a quote from 'Hamlet', in which Horatio is discussing suicide with his friend Hamlet. In context, though, Ethan is telling Buffy that 'XXX' is in Roman numerals - he's imprisoned in cell number 30.

Did I mention I'm not crazy good at symbolism?

>> Although Buffy is apparently baffled here, in issue #4 we'll see that she did manage to work out the meaning behind the symbolism easily enough. She's not nearly as dumb as she sometimes pretends to be.

Just remember what you see here.
Twilight is falling. You're going to
need all the help you can get. Pet.

>> The mention of 'Twilight' is, of course, a massive clue (or foreshadowing).

>> All of Ethan's actions can be construed as entirely selfish - which would, of course, be perfectly in character. He dragged her straight past everything else so she could get to the important detail: where he was imprisoned, so she could help to free him. Even so, his offer of help - and warning that she will need that help - is interesting. And of course Buffy did learn Amy's Achilles' heel during her little trip, so it was ultimately useful.


Buffy lies still on her BED. Her arms and legs have been freed from Amy's magical binding, but she's still FAST ASLEEP. Xander and Willow stand next to her; behind them, many other SLAYERS (including LEAH and ROWENA) crowd into the room. Dawn, too big to fit inside, peeps through the window. 

>> It's clear that some time has passed since the battle; Amy has been taken down to the dungeon, Xander has come back from the control room, the Slayers who were in the battle have gathered here too (except for the ones being taken care of in the infirmary). Incidentally, it's very unusual for Leah and Rowena to be in a scene when Satsu is not (at least, there's one woman in one of the frames who might be her, but it's not made clear.) This is possibly deliberate misdirection, and she's just off-camera.

You can't just undo the spell?

Serious magic is kinda like improv, Dawn.
You can't just stop it cold; you gotta adapt.

>> improv = improvisational theatre.

Is that why I've got an army of the undead
playing 'Pride and Prejudice' around my ankles?

>> Jane Austen wrote that novel in 1813; one of the most important early scenes is a formal ball. It's also been filmed several times, of course, but Dawn always struck me as a book person.

Don't worry; as soon as the ball's over they'll leave.
(Looking at Buffy)
She looks tired.

She's asleep.

You know what I mean.

It's been a long year, and you've been where now?

We'll talk. This is a true love spell.

>> Is Willow being avoidy here, or just practical and focused on the current crisis? Incidentally, as she did with Amy earlier, Willow can now identify types of magic simply by looking at them.

Rumour has it. How do we deal?

Buffy needs to be kissed by someone who's in love with her.
And someone in this room is.

>> Now how did she know that? Possibly just the same way she knew by looking that it was a love spell. Alternatively, it's been well established that Willow can hear other people's thoughts if they think loudly enough ('Two To Go', 'Showtime'), so perhaps she just picked up on somebody's lusty feelings for Buffy as soon as she walked in the door. Or, just possibly, it's herself she's talking about. (Issue #4 strongly implies that it was Satsu who kissed Buffy, but it's not stated absolutely for definite). 

The Slayers look at each other in a mixture of SURPRISE and SPECULATION. Xander, on the other hand, looks UPSET. 

>> In #2 Xander was stressed out when Amy suggested he try to give Buffy the kiss of true love, and he's equally uncomfortable here. We don't know why. Maybe he does love Buffy, but he doesn't want to admit it - either to others, or to himself - because he thinks it would be messy and complicated and wrong. Alternatively, perhaps he doesn't love her that way, and so he's worried on her behalf because he doesn't know of anybody else who does either - which means she'll never wake up... Or perhaps he thinks that they'll have to give either Angel or Spike a call, and he hates that idea. :-)

WILLOW (cont'd)
They might not even have realised it,
and they probably don't want anyone to know about it.
So everybody's gonna shut their eyes -- and
keep 'em shut if they wanna keep 'em --
and that person will step forward and give Buffy a kiss. Okay?

>> Willow's phrasing here strongly implies that she knows it's one of the Slayers in the room who is passionate about Buffy. Note her careful avoidance of using gendered pronouns, and her understanding that the person in question might not have realised the sexual nature of her feelings for Buffy, and might not want her fellow-Slayers to know about them if she has. Willow's also being pretty aggressive - threatening to put somebody's eyes out if they sneak a peek is harsh, and shows how strongly she feels about people being allowed to come to terms with their sexuality at the speed they choose. 

>> Also, of course, spot the foreshadowing. Willow's talking about people losing their eyes here, and guess what happens to her in issue #4?


Buffy presses her HAND to her LIPS in surprise.

I have a funny feeling on my mouth.


Buffy suddenly SPRINGS UPRIGHT in bed. She's AWAKE again

Cinnamon buns!

Xander looks shocked. Willow looks pleased.

>> 'Cinnamon buns' - and Satsu has cinnamon-flavoured lip gloss. Conclusive? No. Suggestive? Definitely. Incidentally, in an earlier frame Willow was resting her hand on Buffy's hip - when Buffy wakes up here, it kinda looks like she's hastily pulling her hand away. :-)

>> Assuming Xander wasn't the one to kiss Buffy (which, if it was Satsu, is true) he probably looks shocked because he didn't think there was anybody in the room capable of giving Buffy the kiss of true love, and he's taken aback to realise that at least one of his Slayers is a lesbian. Willow, meanwhile, has a broad grin on her face at the same thought. :-) (Though probably also because she's just glad to see Buffy awake.)

>> Churros in #1, now cinnamon buns. Is there a pastries theme here? Is Lorne the secret mastermind behind Twilight?

>> In this scene Xander and Willow are both standing on the same side of the bed. However, in #2 we saw Amy and Xander standing either side of it and talking over Buffy's sleeping form. That means that there is room for someone to slip through the gap between the bed and the wall and kiss Buffy, without squeezing past the people standing next to her.

Or... uh... I just had the weirdest-- Will!


A DARK and noisome cellar lit by TORCHES, with a STONE VAULTED ROOF and RUNE-CARVED WALLS. There is a huge pile of HUMAN SKULLS on the floor. A DEMON similar to the ones Buffy fought in the Teaser - but BIGGER and MEANER - is talking to GILES. 

>> We know that Buffy told Xander to send a copy of the Twilight symbol to Giles. Clearly his researchs have led him here. This scene is presumably happening at roughly the same time as the events in the castle.

We are not amused.

No one's exactly giggling on this
side of the fence either.

Three of our brood slain!

(cleaning his glasses)
They broke protocol.

They were lured out there!

I think they were, yes. Someone engineered
that conflict -- and sacrificed two young
men in the process. I think we need to know who.

>> Well, we in the audience know who, although not why. Giles implies in this scene that Twilight is trying to start a war between the Slayers and this particular tribe of demons, in order to do harm to both, which seems a reasonable assumption. 

He hands a demon a PIECE OF PAPER. The demon looks at it and gives it back. 

>> That would be the Twilight symbol (the beautiful sunset/guy with a monocle frowning) that Buffy found carved into the chests of the two men killed by the demons in the old church in issue #1.

This symbol is meaningless to us. And
we are not convinced this is not some
Slayer trick. We have ever been enemies.

And ever shall be. We'll come to grips one
day, but on a day we choose. We'll
not be led there like cattle. Right now,
information benefits us both. If you learn anything...

>> Ethan has already told Buffy she'll need his help. And now Giles is bargaining with a race of demons. This emphasises the size of the threat they face - but from General Voll's point of view, it would only confirm his suspicions. Buffy is dealing with the devil, forming alliances with Evil in order to fight against Twilight and the representatives of Humanity...


ANDREW is talking on the TELEPHONE to XANDER. In his other hand he holds a HAND OF CARDS.

...We would so tell you about it. Seriously, we
got nothing going on here. I've looked through
so many books I've got parchment fingers. But
my Mom used to order this special dermatological
soap because hoisin sauce makes me rashy--

>> Hoisin sauce is fermented soy with garlic, vinegar, and other flavourings, used as a condiment in Chinese food.

XANDER (by phone)
Just keep an eye out.


This is the other side of the TELEPHONE CONVERSATION. XANDER is walking down the corridor talking to Andrew on his BLUETOOTH HEADSET.

ANDREW (by phone)
Oh, we're on alert. You think Amy's
attack and the symbol are linked?

Just a whole lotta question marks
coming up at the same time. Wanted to make
sure you're not seeing any action.

ANDREW (by phone)
I wish! We're just trying to think of games to
stay awake. It's Dullsville, Italy.

Xander has reached the door to the CASTLE INFIRMARY.

Sounds good enough to me.

ANDREW (by phone)
No, trust me...


REVEAL that Andrew is in the library of the villa. There's a cosy OPEN FIRE, one SLAYER is reading a COMIC BOOK, and Andrew and FOUR OTHER SLAYERS are playing STRIP POKER. The girls are all down to their UNDERWEAR; one is about to remove her BRA. Andrew's in a T-SHIRT but we can't see him below the waist.

ANDREW (cont'd)
...You'd be bored stiff.

>> Yet another joke about Andrew's total disinterest in the female body. Incidentally, either he's a very good poker player, or he's not wearing trousers in this frame. :-) Also, he said that they're thinking of games to stay awake, because they're on alert... which means that if zombies launched a surprise attack in Italy as well right this moment, they'd be fighting an army of mostly-naked Slayers... 

>> The comic book one Slayer is reading is 'Fray', by a certain Mr Joss Whedon. This is the second shout-out to his other work, following Buffy's 'Serenity' t-shirt in #1.


Lights have been strung on the ceiling and BEDS set out to make this a makeshift hospital ward. The CASUALTIES from the battle with the zombies are being TREATED - we see drips, syringes, bandages and other medical paraphernalia in use. RENEE is lying on a bed covered in BANDAGES and looking MISERABLE. 

>> We last saw her in #2 being stabbed in the back by one of the zombies.

Well this is really unimpressive.

Xander takes a chair and sits at the foot of Renee's bed.

One attack by the undead and Renee has
to take a nap, "Oh I'm all run through
with a broadsword, I have to lie around and
heal..." Back in my day, which was about a
week and a half ago, we took our lumps
and we got back up and we cried like babies
and quit and then put on weight.

I should've seen 'em coming. They shoulda
never got over that wall. We lost girls because of--

>> Note the statement here that the attacking zombies killed several of the Slayers. (Wonder if new ones were Called as a result, or not?)

Oh, are you still talking?
(Firm but compassionate)
You mess up, Buffy'll kick your ass. Assuming
she's not in a mystical coma, in which
case I or a qualified representative will kick
your ass. You raised the call and you stood
your ground. It was solid soldiering, so shut
up and heal.

>> Xander lays out the chain of command. Buffy's in charge; if he gives orders, it's because she's granted him that authority.

(amused, and possibly smitten)
You're so butch.

>> Not only is she smiling, she's looking up at him through her lashes. She'll be playing with her hair next.

Almost a kind of masculine vibe, don't you think?

>> And he's definitely flirting right back at her.


A large bare stone room with IMMENSELY THICK WALLS and small windows. Some CHAINS hang down, and there is a wooden CABINET HOLDING WEAPONS against one wall. AMY hangs in the air, unconscious, glowing GREEN MYSTICAL BONDS around her ankles and outstretched wrists. WILLOW floats next to her, magically EXAMINING her while BUFFY stands nearby and watches. 

>> The basement of Buffy's home, wherever it may be, always has chains on the wall. It's traditional.

She teleported here. I'm gonna run a
trace, see where she came from.

You definitely think she's not alone?

A couple of her spells reeked of tech. She's
working with someone.

Okay. Hey, speaking of where the hell have you been...

Yeah, it's been a funky time. We'll get into it.

Well, how you been? How's Kennedy? Are you still--

>> The fact that she has to ask if Willow and Kennedy "are still..." is a clear sign that Buffy, at least, never saw their relationship as true love 4eva...

She died.

Buffy looks horrified, claps her HANDS TO HER MOUTH. Willow immediately looks APOLOGETIC. 

>> That's maybe debatable - some people think Willow is making a cruel joke here. To me, though, it looks more like she didn't stop to think about the effect her news would have on somebody hearing it for the first time. Of course, there may have been a teensy bit of Joss winding up certain sections of fandom here. :-) What actually happened to Kennedy is left as a mystery for now.


Oh no! She's fine! Mystical thing, only lasted
a month. We're just taking it slow for a
while. She's sort of in her own space, but it's
cool. I always tell that wrong.
(changing the subject)
Seems like things are hoppin' here.

>> So are Willow and Kennedy still together? Kennedy's reaction to being dead for a month sounds rather like the way she reacted to Willow's energy-drain magic in 'Get It Done'; wanting to be by herself to think things through. Willow thinks "it's cool", but we don't know if that's because she's confident Kennedy still loves her and will want her back once she's got herself together, or if it's because Willow's got lots of other (mystical) things on her mind right now and won't be upset if they end up going their separate ways.

Same old. 'Cept for Dawnie; she's
definitely not mama's little girl anymore.

Yeah, what'd she do? Bone a thricewise?

>> Good guess, Willow. Clearly everybody in the Buffyverse knows exactly what a thricewise is, even if we don't... Also, Willow has a history ('Forever', 'All The Way', 'Wrecked') of encouraging Dawn to act grown-up and push the boundaries, while Buffy and the others were trying to hold her back and encourage responsibility. So it's not surprising that Willow is blasée about Dawn having a sex life now, while Buffy still has issues about it. 


>> Clearly some time has passed between this conversation and when Xander comes in. 

The DOOR opens and XANDER enters.

Place is more or less locked down.
Can I get a sit rep on ratgirl before--

>> Sit rep = "situation report". 

He finds Buffy and Willow HUGGING and LAUGHING, clearly in the MIDDLE OF A CONVERSATION. 

>> Apparently it's been the best part of a year since they've seen each other. Nice to see they're still friends.

...and I was covered in it! Covered!

Oh, no, no...

Wait! What? A funny?
(Points at them both)
There's funny bonhomie happening and I want in!

(stifling laughter)
No... ahh... ahh... girl thing.

Girl thing? With girl parts? Now I really need to know!

>> Living in a castle with 100 women, you'd think Xander would know all there is to know about girl talk by now. Maybe they all fall silent when he appears, and change the subject? Poor Xander...

>> Speaking of poor Xander, the thought occurs that when a large number of young women live in close proximity their menstrual cycles tend to synchronise - and a Slayer is a demon-powered killing machine even when she isn't PMSing. Imagine 100 of them doing it simultaneously...

Slow year, Xan?

Oh, I'm getting plenty of action, Elphaba.
I'm Action Jackson.

>> Xander calls Willow Elphaba, which is the name given to the Wicked Witch of the West in the Broadway show 'Wicked', based on the Wizard of Oz. (Interestingly, in issue #2 Leah compared Amy to the same character). Action Jackson is a 1988 film starring Carl Weathers as a police detective.

"Slow year"... I said that... God, my dream...

Hey, I believe. You were the biggest ladies'
man in Sunnydale, Harris. I even went in for
smoochies, and I don't truck with the stubbly crowd.

Of course, according to my parents
the action I'm getting right now should make
my last remaining eye go blind...

>> He need to pay more attention to those hints Renee keeps dropping... (Unless, of course, he's already aware of them but thinks that a relationship with one of the troops under his command would be immoral/bad for discipline.)

Hey! Who kissed me?

Meanwhile MAGICAL GREEN ENERGY is forming around Willow's hand as her SPELL takes effect.

Hold up, guys; I'm getting a reaction.
(To Amy)
Let's see where you've been hanging out.

The WALL behind Amy fades away to reveal a VISION; a large DARK SPACE with three MEN in BODY ARMOUR, MASKS AND HELMETS, carrying GUNS.

Girls, I'm pretty sure that's not the
kingdom of the faerie-folk.

A military installation? Oh, if the Initiative is back...

>> Many readers and reviewers commented on the similarity of the storyline; it's kind of refreshing that the Scoobies also make the same connection.

Now why does this remind me of a cavern...?

This is a portal.

And suddenly AMY'S EYES SNAP OPEN... and they're SOLID BLACK.
>> Uh-oh.

It's a trAAHHHH!

The PORTAL opens and both AMY and WILLOW are sucked into it.


She LEAPS for the portal - but it CLOSES, and she crashes through it into the WEAPONS CABINET, crushing it and falling to the floor.

(shouting over his Bluetooth)
I need mystics in the basement level now! We
need a portal re-opened! Alpha Team, suit up
and stand by. WHERE ARE MY MYSTICS?

(seriously pissed off)
We're being played, Xander.
I'm not liking it.

>> And again: uh-oh.


This is a clinical looking room, perhaps an operating theatre or examination room. WILLOW lies face up on a TABLE, GLOWING PINK BONDS manacling her wrists and ankles. There is an OVERHEAD LIGHT and a TABLE with SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS next to the table.

AMY (O.C.)
Great big all-powerful earth-mother witch goddess...
(she leans over Willow into camera)
...and she still falls for the rope-a-dope.
Of course, we're contracted to bring in the
Slayer, but I'm pretty sure she'll show. Too late, of course.

>> This highlights Willow's current strengths and weaknesses. In terms of sheer raw power, she's now almost unbeatable. Almost. She's still human, though, and prone to making mistakes and - a particular late-season Willow trait - being overconfident when she thinks she understands a situation.


Amy looks over to an approaching FIGURE, who speaks with an odd, INHUMAN VOICE. 

>> You can tell that Warren's voice is strange, because his speech bubbles have odd, irregular edges instead of being smooth and round like the normal peoples'.

I can't tell you how long I've waited for this.
Well, I can. To the hour. Killing Buffy
Summers is gonna be a party. She's
pissed me off more than a little.

ON WILLOW, looking horrified.

VOICE (cont'd)
But you, Rosenberg...

REVEAL - well, it's WARREN MEERS, walking and talking - although not even his mother would recognise him, on account of his total LACK OF SKIN. And he's holding a SURGICAL SAW.
>> His surname is spelled 'Meers' in the script of 'Selfless' in S7, 'Mears' in 'I Was Made To Love You' in S5.

... you really got under my skin.



Tags: buffy, meta, season 8
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