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(meta) Season 8 timeline

16th September 2007 (20:12)

Out of idle curiosity, I've been spending some time trying to work out exactly when Buffy season 8 takes place.

Firstly, it's pretty clear it's autumn in the northern hemisphere:

1) In issue 1, Buffy tells Dawn "you have to be at Berkeley." It's a reasonable assumption that Dawn is a student at the University of California, especially given that she's talking about "guys on campus" in issue 7. The Fall Semester at Berkeley starts in late August.

2) In issue 6, Giles says the apocalypse will happen "before the end of fall" unless Lady Genevieve is stopped. This indicates two things: it's currently early autumn, and Giles has been spending too much time with Americans.

3) In issue 7, Dawn is picking apples. This definitely confirms that it's autumn, unless they're magic apples that ripen out of season.

Let's assume for the sake of argument, then, that Season 8 starts in late September, just like the seasons of the TV show did. The question is, September of which year?

The best way to work this out is by looking at Dawn's age. (Her nominal human age, not her actual number of years of existence). In 'Real Me' broadcast in October 2000, she says she's 14. In 'Once More With Feeling' broadcast in November 2001 she says she's 15. Of course there's no guarantee each episode was meant to take place exactly on its broadcast date; but we can take it as a general guideline. Dawn, then, would be 16 at the start of season 7 in September 2002: she would be 18 in September 2004.

In issue 7, Dawn refers to meeting Kenny "on campus", and says he's the only guy there to not see her as "a walking pair of boobs". That implies that she's already a student, and gives us several alternatives:

1) Dawn spent 2003-04 at high school somewhere or other (maybe California, or Scotland, or maybe even Rome). She started university in August 2004, aged 18. She met Kenny, slept with him, turned into a giant, and was somehow smuggled back to Scotland, all within a matter of three or four weeks. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

2) Dawn won early entry to university in August 2003, aged only 17. (Is this even possible?) She had a whole year to get to know Kenny; my guess is that she came to spend the 2004 long summer vacation with Buffy in Scotland, discovered she was pregnant a giant, and so was unable to go back to California for the start of her second year. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

3) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school in Scotland. (I understand Scotland has at least one excellent high school that specialises in a mystical education...) She met Kenny there, not at university; her references to 'guys on campus' are talking about her high school. She should have started her first yeat at Berkeley in August 2004, but couldn't due to her delicate condition. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2004.

4) Dawn spent 2003-04 at school and 2004-05 at university in Berkeley. She met Kenny at university, came to Scotland to stay with Buffy during the 2005 summer vacation, and should be starting her second year now. Season 8 thus starts in late September 2005, a year later than the other three options.

Option 4 seems the most likely to me, but it means that it's been not just a year and a half, but a full two years and two months since the end of Season 7. That's a lot of time - plenty of time, in fact, to seek out new Slayers, go shopping and partying in Rome and/or Rio, mourn the dead, track down the location of the Watchers' Council secret Scottish headquarters (hopefully not called the Torchwood Estate), arrange funding, do all that and then still have a 'slow year' afterwards...



Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:34 (UTC)

Didn't Joss say somewhere in an interview 18 months? I seem to recall that because it changed an early statement that it had been a shorter period around a year.

Is Dawn's age a non-variable age? We know from previous experience that JW is not good of keeping track of this thing with Buffy's changing age and Faith's being examples.

But I agree option 4 sounds more likely if only for the disruption caused to studies caused by Chosen. I would have expected Dawn to need to take some classes to catch up.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:44 (UTC)

Yes, he's said 18 months. But I don't necassarily put a lot of weight in that - like you say, Joss isn't brilliant at keeping track of dates and numbers.

18 months after 'Chosen' would be November 2004... sort of in the ballpark, but perhaps a little late to be harvesting apples in Scotland. :-)

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:46 (UTC)
slayer dreaming

Could be Dawn had to leave campus because of said giant affliction? *shrug*

Seems from all your alternatives that you've been geeking over this way more than I have, so I'll trust your judgement ;)

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:20 (UTC)

That still leaves the problem of how to get a giant from California to Scotland, unless the growth was a delayed effect. It may be that she did spend a year at UC Berkeley and met Kenny there, came to Scotland for the summer and then started growing.

Alternatively, maybe Berkeley is a misprint for "St Andrews" or "Aberdeen". Then she could have walked.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:39 (UTC)

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 00:16 (UTC)

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 23:33 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 19:52 (UTC)

Do we know for sure that "Chosen" takes place in May/June 2003? I've always gotten the impression that the entire last third of the season - cliffhanger upon cliffhanger - plays out over just a week or two. If Sunnydale turns into an innie in late March/early April, that's pretty much 18 months until late September 2004. (This would also fit with Angel s5, which starts 19 days after "Chosen"; if that was mid-June, presumably the kid Angel saves in "Conviction" wouldn't be in school...)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:44 (UTC)

That's a pretty good argument, actually. Although it would still mean that Dawn either (a) went to university a year younger than normal (b) met Kenny at high school (c) managed to lose her virginity and become a giant within a couple of weeks of starting college, and then return from Berkeley without anyone noticing the 50-foot tall woman walking past them...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:02 (UTC)

I don't see any problem with c. She wouldn't be the first girl who, out from under her parents' big sister's wing for the first time, ends up in a guy's bed pretty quickly (she'd even be continuing a family tradition). As for making it back across the Atlantic... well, we've already seen that there are mystics in that castle who can teleport people halfway across the world. Failing that, if they have black unmarked helicopters, I'm sure they can rustle up a C130.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:06 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 21:26 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 23:31 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 00:22 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 09:09 (UTC)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 10:16 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:30 (UTC)

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 22:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 22:24 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:33 (UTC)
S8 OT3 by st_salieri

Lots of intersting stuff, that I don't have time to discuss.

But I've been pondering the timeline myself, if from a totally different angle - see I've been thinking of Buffy's fantasy. *points to icon*

Now that is the sort of scenario you only dream up if you know that the guys in question are alive - unavailable perhaps, even for all eternity - but alive. Not that you can't dream like that about people you know to have died in apocalypses, but... it's a little unlikely.

Of course Joss only put it in because it was fun and silly and yanked the 'shippers chains, rather than because he wanted to say something about Buffy's mindset (except that she was missing sex, which is so blunt as to be laughable).

Anyway, S8 - based on this impossibly flimsy argument - is either pre-NFA or, as you point out, a LOT later. (In which case - *why* is Dawn behaving like a moody 15 year old?)

(All of this ties in with why everyone just feels 'off' to me. But - I shouldn't be here. And you didn't see me!)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2007 20:47 (UTC)

Who said that??

(But I generally agree with what you said, except that I wouldn't be so convinced that moody 18-year olds can't also act like Dawn is doing).

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:34 (UTC)
S8 Buffy by dreamer1104

Who said that??
You mean, that he was only baiting the 'shippers? Um... it seemed pretty obvious. Everyone has an agenda for whom Buffy should end up with (and he knows perfectly well how insane the Spuffies and Bangels can get), so he gives them a happy fantasy (essentially echoing Andrew from TGiQ: "Buffy loves you both"), resolving nothing and having LOTS of fun in the process.

As for Buffy's midset, then when Ethan shows her the dream, she's very embarrassed (something about a slow year?), but not guilty (as she'd be if they were both dead). Ergo, it's either pre-NFA (and she knows Spike is alive), or post-NFA and she knows they survived.

Or... well who cares. As I said, they just feel 'off'. Not out of character necessarily, just... not where they ought to be, given what I know they've been through. Like a nice AU. Also, and this is my main gripe (and the reason for the 'offness' I think), generally it feels as though they're being made to fit the story, rather than the other way around.

And Dawn can perfectly well be moody, it's just getting a little old now... do something *different* with her. Like... oooh what Lynch did with Beck. From Emo!Teen to Rebellious!Teen, and perfectly in character. Dawn has spent far too long being whiny.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:33 (UTC)

Um... "who said that??" was in response to your line about not being here and I did'nt see you, not a response to your actual comment...

I did remember something about Buffy's fantasy, though. Remember it's her dreamspace, which contains every dream she's ever had and ever will have. There's no guarantee that the Spike/Angel fantasy is a recent one (or even one she's even had yet)...

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 17th September 2007 06:35 (UTC)

Speaking of Yanking shipper's chains, wasn't the first page of the issue 7 preview pretty much Faith's declaration of undying Buffy love? I think we can revise that 2 on the Kinsey scale upwards. So far that's Spuffy, Bangel, Bufder and Fuffy all referenced. Wiffy must be next.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:35 (UTC)
Buffy Anne Summers by thesuthernangel

Wiffy must be next.
I thought that was addressed with the whole 'someone in this room is in love with Buffy!' How did she know?

(And I'm all for Buffy/Faith. Bring it!)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 11:58 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 12:45 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 15:20 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 19:39 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 17th September 2007 13:46 (UTC)

I'm not sure if it affects the timeline but one other factlet about the mysterious Kenny is that Buffy says both she and Leah pegged him for a thricewise in issue 1. Implying that they met him in person (as opposed to Giles who only met him on the phone). So either Buffy visited Dawn's 'campus' with Leah in tow for some reason or Dawn invited Kenny to visit Schloss Slayer at some point. In either case it seems likely Dawn and Kenny were established enough as 'friends' for her to introduce him to relative strangers like Leah and for him either to phone Giles or answer Dawn or Buffy's phone at some point when Giles was calling them. Also it's only really Buffy and Willow's assumption the the embiggenment was sex-related, maybe Xander was more on the right track after all.

Posted by: jess (soapygirl)
Posted at: 18th September 2007 15:36 (UTC)

I don't think Dawn did it on purpose but I do think she knowlingly engaged in some risky behavior (ie Giles and Buffy warned her away from Kenny) because some part of her likes to be Dawn in Peril.

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