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September 04 2008

(SPOILER) For the discussion of Buffy #18. Will the Slayer(s) survive last month's dramatic revelation?

I haven't read this yet, but I am going to go out on a limb and say yes, they will survive last month's dramatic revelation. :-)
Dana5140 - its like you can see into the future or something. Please try to use your powers only for good!
I haven't gotten it yet, either, but I must say I'm happy an effort is being made to reconcile Fray's single slayerhood with the events in S7.
If I can't channel my inner 30's serial announcer voice then why I...

Anyhow I liked the issue, it was good solid stuff. Though I'm would have preferred this arc to be six issues rather than four. as it does seem to have a slightly rushed feel to it. Dying to know how future Willow lost most of her magic.
Great issue although I cannot believe there is only one more left in the arc. The arc is gripping but definitely doesn't feel as though it's about to conclude. Definitely less of a standalone arc and is moving the story along quite nicely.

The Willow stuff is so, so good! What the hell has Buffy done so wrong? She's really fucked up and it isn't just the creation of multi-millions of Slayers, because it has to be something that hasn't yet happened, right?

One issue left and we still need some resolution on Xander and Dawn's story, some great big answers in terms of future Willow and future magic, and we are still waiting to know who Buffy was meeting in Manhattan.

Ach, my head hurts!
Not the best Season 8 issue so far, but it still advances the plot considerably.

I think Buffy and Fray's partnership is showing us some really difficult things about Buffy this season. For a while now, most of us have been really happy that Buffy has found her sense of humor again and it's been swell. It's felt like she's no longer the rather bitter and cold Buffy she often was in Seasons 6 and 7. And that's true, but only in a sense. In fact, it's true only in the worst sense. Buffy has lost the mission, and lost it badly. For all her good cheer and good humor that she's managed... she can no longer be bothered to jump in and slay some vampires to protect people. She was ready to accept watching vampires kill some people so that the vampires in question would be alive to follow back to their headquarters. Melaka, for her part, was rightfully disgusted by this and dove in... which only exposed her to Willow and whatever she had to say.

I do find it interesting to see Buffy and Erin together, commiserating about being big sisters, and Buffy say she thought about becoming a cop. Either that's a straight retcon of "What's My Line", or we're learning something new about Buffy -- at the time, she was openly offended at the idea law enforcement was a good career for her. Now, though, it seems like a good idea for a non-Slayer happy ending for her if Joss ever needs to come up with one.

Melaka is a joy, IMO. I still think she's going to be killed in 8.19, but I'm glad she's here to give Buffy a kick in the ass. I don't know what Willow must have shown her to make her turn on Buffy, but for the first time I'm starting to think it must have been legit if Fray thinks it's bad. Either Buffy really is dangerous and Fray and FDW are on the right side, or Willow lied to Fray. Either is possible right now.

I liked the Gunther scene, nice to see two good bad guy types have a nice staredown. Didn't seem to advance the story, but it was cool.

The forest scene with Xander and Dawn was pretty solid -- definitely improved by having the two of them completely indifferent to the Fire Ent guys, the obligatory Gilmore Girls reference by Xander, and the Fire Ent guy being all confused that something is scarier than they are. The chemistry and tension between Xander and Dawn is pretty stable, and teetering on 'shippy.

Willow... I have basically lost all respect for. Again with the serpent lady sex, and dialogue that suggests that she A) is enjoying it, and B) is somehow loyal to Vasuki, willingly. It strikes me as being little more than an affair that happens to be magically useful. It's not clear whether the quasi-hentai with Vasuki is something that happens telepathically (was it during the Willow-Kennedy sex?), or she actually goes in person, but it really doesn't matter. I think Tara would be ashamed of what Willow has let herself turn into, and not just future Willow. I liked the touch that future Willow is essentially powerless -- just used all her power to stay alive for this, one assumes. So maybe 8.19 will have FDW dying, too.

Interesting trivia -- Willow telling Fray that the most important men in both of their lives (meaning Buffy's and Fray's) are both vampires. Seems like Joss is A) declaring for the 50% of the audience that prefers the vampire 'ships, and B) implying he is going to get off that fence eventually. Oh well.
Loved it all the way down to . And the context of "Ken Doll" made me :D
Willow having no magic is probably related to all the magic being driven from the Earth more than anything else. Good issue, but I think I actually enjoyed After the Fall more this month, which might be a first.
Willow having no magic is probably related to all the magic being driven from the Earth more than anything else. Good issue, but I think I actually enjoyed After the Fall more this month, which might be a first.

I'm right there with you. This was a solid get-us-to-next-month issue, but Lynch really nailed After the Fall this month.
I was a little concerned with Buffy not finding mention in the books of the future of her turning all the Potentials into Slayers. I hope this doesn't mean that the world of Fray is an alternate reality that will be eventually "fixed" by Buffy & Co. All the time-bendy stuff and the "don't look!" cautions to Willow by demon lady may hint at this direction. Not that a future with acid rain and all sorts of other nasty stuff (ever starker differences between rich and poor, etc.) is a good thing. I just don't want all that I have invested in the world of Fray to be rendered no longer "real" or never having happened after all.

Of course, there are a lot of other ways this plot could go. We shall see.

I'm not sure that Buffy's idea to look at the big picture is a bad one, nor am I sure that it means she has somehow lost her moral bearings. Perhaps by looking at the big picture and thinking strategically one can prevent far more deaths than one can do by rushing headlong into battle after battle without a larger plan. Plus, one slayer stays to fight the immediate battles, the other goes off to trace the source of the bad guys. Seems a good plan to me.

I found this an enjoyable issue, although I admit I have a negative reaction to Willow and her interactions with demon woman. It all feels sleazy to me. Anyone else on my page or am I alone on this?

Edited to add: Loved the Snyder shout-out. Hah!

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2008-09-04 19:19 ]
Somebody else dies? Yeah. I know, Wes. People are dying every day all over. This girl is just one more statistic.

Stacey. The statistic's name was Stacey Bluth.

That's what Buffy sounded like in this issue. Fray was a stand-in for Wes. They were flying around past vampires actively feeding on people. People actively calling for help. There was a time when Buffy saw the world clearly enough that they go down there, kill all but one of the vampires, and then beat on it until it talks. She could introduce Fray to that trick with the cross that Buffy used in "When She Was Bad" (does Fray even know about the cross thing?). Fray was right -- something is skew with that girl. And Buffy didn't appear in any dialogue to actually be *carrying out* any plan so grand as going to look for their headquarters. She just crashed the car and went back to Fray's place, basically. Incidentally, the answer to all of Buffy's questions was right down there, which she would have found if she hadn't been looking for the "big picture".

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-09-04 19:34 ]
I haven't read the issue yet, but what the hey, I'll comment.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I think everyone has extra love for one character. For me, it's Willow... Willow was/is always my special lady. Her character resounded with me, and I positively swooned over her for seven seasons. But what I'm reading here is actually, sappily, kinda breaking my heart a little. Someone mentioned that what she's doing with snake lady seems "sleazy," and yeah... I get that impression, too. I'll read, I'll laugh, I'll be affected all through S8 and S9, but I don't want "my" Will shown in this negative light throughout all that. Not sure my tender heart can take it. It's almost like she's a Big Bad all over again.

Wow. I'm PMSing, right? I've got to be...
Orgasm visions? "Come again?" Phallic serpent tails? Srsly?

Yeaaahhhh ... I'm not sure I needed to see Willow's so-close face.

I did enjoy the guy on the futuristic motorbike giving careening Buffy the finger, though.
KingofCretins, are we sure Buffy just went back to Fray's or did something transpire that we haven't been shown? (Certainly we weren't shown what went on in full during Fray's and Future Dark Willow's discussion.) If it's the former, then yeah, she is rudderless and that's a very bad thing. As for the save one person vs. save the whole world at the expense of one person, both Buffy and Angel as shows and their characters have gone back and forth on that. Wes careened beween "She has a name and it's X" to his being all larger-picture general-y. Angel, too. Buffy in S5 felt strongly that Dawn must be saved at all costs but in S7 told Giles that she had changed her stance on that. It didn't seem a black/white thing to the writers - very little is black/white in the Buffyverse.

I don't know. I agree that Buffy has been problematic this "year" but considering Willow's current...issues...I keep thinking the blame has to be spread around a little. Of course, as I've said before and will keep reminding myself, all is often not what it seems at the moment of its seeming. Who knows who did what to bring about the future badness? Maybe Buffy, maybe Willow, maybe someone else, maybe all of the above.

When oh when will we find out who Buffy met with in contemporary New York? Next issue?

karosurly, I agree. About it all. I can't believe I'm having a prudish reaction to the Buffy comics, but I guess if I'm honest with myself, I am. I don't consider myself a prude at all, usually. Au contraire. What gives?
Buffy's been rudderless the entire series run. Sort of sad, really, since it is so OOC given how S7 ended and all.
Out of character.
"out of character". I'm not sure where I'd rate it -- is it simply out of character, or has the character herself fundamentally shifted in this way? See, I don't find her rudderless, but rather just navigating the wrong course. And worse, having to talk herself into it as if it's the right one (see her "suck it up, Summers" speech in "The Long Way Home"). It's like part of her knew this isn't how she should be but she felt she had to become this.
Not sure how I felt about this issue. It was good, sure, but it definitely felt like a filler issue to me. When I finished it, I felt like maybe I had skipped some pages, accidentally.

As others have said, this is the first time that I've preferred an issue of Angel, to Buffy.
So far, I'm not sure why I'm having a lukewarm reaction to this arc. I'm loving the story and I'm terribly eager to see how it all wraps up. But overall, I'm left with a very mild sort of "Hmmm...interesting" response, rather than the OMG! or LOL (or any other text-message cliched interjection) response I think I'm supposed to have, but am not. It just feels kind of workaday to me.
It seems like Buffy has been doing a lot of things out of character in S8 in my opinion. I'm not looking to start a Big with this or anything, but just to note, and I said this right to Scott Allie's face at th Dark Horse Booth in NYCC...I am not a Butsu fan.

Even with that aside, General Buffy, who was all about uniting the potentials and fighting against the darkness blah blah... was set to let people die just to get a lead. Keep in mind this was -Not- a Dawn vs. the World scenario. This was Buffy willing to let at least 5 humans get chewed on simply for the opportunity to trail some vamps to a nest.

I've been a fan of Buffy since the movie (Don't fault me there, I was like 5) but frankly I'm becoming disgusted with her. I realize they are going for the angst, but we've already seen dark depressing bad choice Buffy. It was called season 6.

And as disappointed as I am with Buffy...Willow. Dear Willow. I'm not even faulting her on the future dark Willow bit. I'm talking about the 'cheating on my girlfriend to have magic sex with a demon lady' Psychic, dream, crazy vision quest...It's still cheating and I really doubt Kennedy has any idea what's going there.

I liked the S8 opening arc. I'm intrigued by Twilight. The Faith arc was very good, but since Wolves at the Gate I feel like they've started trying to sell the sex, and lost the heart of the characters and their story. With Wolves at the Gate and now Time of your life I feel like I'm just trudging through, grinding my teeth finding all these things happening to my heroes that I don't like, and so few good things. I feel like I'm just holding out for payoffs that I haven't quite gotten yet.

But just to end on a non-gripe...Angel was a knock out issue this week!
I enjoyed this and I liked That Scene very much.(1)

I am interested in seeing the complexities of sexuality, power and magic portrayed with Willow and I am interested to see where it goes and how it is resolved in this arc.
Willow is always the sweet girl and lovable but as we have seen before, has a yen for power (started off in "Ted" if not earlier) and it looks like it is leading her to strange places. It's fascinating--this is a magical path that as far as I can look back only seems to have male magic-users on it. (I can think of Faust, John Fowles' The Magus, even Raistlin (and possibly even in one form in Ethan Rayne) but this seems to me to be primarily a male-centric story trope, but Willow could be argued as being on this path--as previously, it's about power. Also, I find the "don't look" as very mythic and very like Orpheus--chilling and also makes me curious about the divine Willow idea. ) This is made even more complex with seeing still very lovable Willow--ah!

I loved the "What's My Line?" and "Band Candy" shout-outs. They made me happy:)

Oh, Fray, we hardly knew ye:/

Also, has anyone else noticed that FDW and Twilight have both stressed an intimacy and love place as necessary to destroying Buffy? This is intriguing and scary.

I wish it was longer and/or had more issues.

ETA: Yes, I still love Willow. Perhaps it is my yen for the complicated...

(1) Since no one has said it yet, yes I'll be in my bunk:)

[ edited by JessicaMelusine on 2008-09-05 00:59 ]
I really wish we didn't have to see the end of Fray, but unless Joss is whipping us around, it really does look like the end for her, unfortunately. I even loved this issue despite realizing what's probably coming. I'm going to be very disappointed if Joss up and kills Fray next issue, so I'm still holding out a little (very little) hope. I like the way that all the main characters are falling apart, though.
I just realized while doing the transcript what the point of the Harth and Gunther scene was.

Gunther's dead. I had thought that last panel was vamps growling at him as he swims away. No, it's three vampires swimming up to him from below, and he doesn't see them coming. He's toast.

I think Fray is toast. Harth is probably toast. FDW is probably toast. Joss is going to basically kill off all Fray's characters in 8.19 just so he can break his own obligation to commit to that story. It'll be motivation for Buffy when she sees the Slayer line truly end right in front of her.
KingofCretins, I had no idea about the Gunther scene. Thanks for that. Would have completely missed it.

Even if Joss kills off all the characters, could there still be a way for more Fray? Some phlebotanom-y excuse?
Yeah, the thing with Gunther was what sealed it for me also. I was still hoping against hope for a happy end for Fray but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I'll never understand Joss' need to murder his characters, and now Fray's as good as marked. Maybe he'll flip out and make it so Harth future-shanshus or something and all the bad vampires go away and everyone lives happily ever after. :(
I'm troubled that Willow is having sex with Kennedy just so she can do this vision quest affair thing with serpent lady, all under Kennedy's nose. Willow should feel ashamed. If there's anything I've learned in my almost-half-a-century, it's you don't cheat on your lady. Ever.

Whatever heavenly dimension Tara's in, she's looking at Willow and feeling quite sad and torn. I have to imagine that's so because (a) it's Tara and she'd still want Willow to stay on the far good side of good, and (b) Joss isn't into W&T anymore, so I MUST imagine, 'cause we're probably not gonna see her again, even though we probably should, even if it's just to set Willow straight.
I enjoyed the issue.I'll have more thoughts on the issue probably tomorrow.

How can Buffy see the slayer line end infront of her? If Fray dies, wont another be called?
I don't think that Gunther is necessarily a goner. In his first appearance panel in this issue, he's all surrounded by swords and stuff, so he could kick some butt. It strikes me as very cut-to-commercial just as things are looking impossibly dire.
I certainly hope that Gunther hasn't kicked the bucket and I have been assuming that he wouldn't. I've only read the issue once, but I had to stop at that last panel and take a few moments to decipher what was going on. Yep, there were lurks swimming *up* to attack Gunther. I'm rooting for the old born-in-literal-gutter gilled bastard. Like karosurly, I think this might be a cut to commercial panel.

I don't know why, but I don't think Fray will die. I just don't. How could Joss kill off such an as yet not fully mined character? Is this wishful thinking?

It was interesting to note Buffy speak of the great fortress of a place that she tracked Harth & Co. down to. I remember him having such a place in the original "Fray" series. I think.
I don't buy that Gunther can't feel them swimming in the water. I'm also unsure why everyone assumes Fray/everyone is going to die and why Joss is already being blamed for these hypothetical deaths. Maybe I'm being naive, but that makes no sense to me. But I guess I never have seen them coming.

I also wish this arc were longer.
Remember the last time we saw a very similar situation? Giles apparently about to be beheaded by a Bringer. And hello, survived. I'm actually rooting for Gunther. As pointed out, he is armed, and the water is more his element than lurks. And I'm suddenly having flashbacks of The Little Mermaid. He may be toast, but his badassery actually made me fell in love with the damn mer-sleaze.
Yeah, I noticed that about Gunther too. "After all, Lurks don't breathe either." Brr.

I liked this issue, and like it more the more I think about it. I have no idea how the next issue will resolve all that has been set up here (or at least enough), and do VERY much hope that Joss doesn't kill Fray (or Harth or Erin); I don't consider these characters off-limits for death, but I'd prefer if I didn't have to see them go in such a short tale; there wasn't all that much time for the Fray characters, with everything going on. I found the tree people in the Xander/Dawn plotline somewhat unnecessary, if entertaining. And for the most part I'm going to wait until next month to comment more on what I think is going on. Still, two major points that have been discussed and I want in on: Willow's sex with Kennedy, and Buffy's ignoring the threat to the civilians.

I completely understand why people have problem with the Willow plotline, but I am fairly riveted. The comics are going into some very grey areas with sexuality, and Willow's apparently using a willing Kennedy For The Mission fascinates me. I expect to get more answers about the nature of Willow's relationship with serpent lady later, and how big a part sex has to play in it. Willow did, after all, contact her at the end of "Wolves at the Gate" without frakking. And, more to the point for this issue, did Willow need to be having sex with another person to achieve her serpent-orgasm-vision, or could she have just...thought of two women doing a spell, and done a spell by herself, as Xander (or at least Willow's dream version of Xander) would say? Either way seems cruel to Kennedy, but the latter at least a bit less so. My supposition, with regards to the demon's request that Willow not look when she brings Buffy back, is, I suspect, about Willow not seeing what she will become--or, perhaps, about Willow not seeing what the world will become as a result of Buffy? Will Willow's peering into the future lead her inextricably to her own future?

As for Buffy losing the mission with regards to the civilians: Buffy has lost sight of trying to help people before, sometimes because of Angel or Dawn, sometimes because of her own depression, sometimes because she felt that her duties as a Slayer and world-saver came before her duties as a human being. I think that what's going on in season eight is different, though consistent with what has happened in previous seasons. Before, Buffy was one girl whose charge was to protect the world from the demons; now she is one of hundreds of girls, except she is the one whom everyone looks up to, whom everyone expects will save them. Now from her perspective, I suspect, the slayers protect the world, and BUFFY protects the slayers; whether it was her choice or not, she is now looked to as the leader of the bunch. And so this has developed into an almost maternal level of protection for the slayers.

When General Voll told Buffy outright that she and her slayers were at war with "the human race", she didn't hesitate ("Oh. 'Kay.") When she found out that Gigi was killing slayers, she almost killed her out of rage. She stole money. She sought out help from Dracula. She kept mum about Willow's serpenty secret. And we know from "A Beautiful Sunset" that Buffy takes personal responsibility for the calling of all the slayers: both the good and the bad; Twilight's greatest blow to her was the suggestion that what she did didn't make a difference. And so when she goes into the future, finds out that the slayer line has been wiped out, is it any wonder that her number one priority is finding out whether she can reverse whatever made them disappear, rather than saving a few civilians? Buffy has, in her mind, an opportunity to make the world (the future) right again, and so it makes perfect sense to me that she would put that at a much higher priority than the regular old saving lives. I think the season is moving towards acknowledging Buffy's Us vs. Them mentality (although the Us does, in her mind, include family and friends like Xander, Dawn and now Erin).
Hmm. Gunther is in for trouble, regardless, but I have a feeling he can take those vamps. Anyway, with only one issue left, and so much to resolve, I doubt they could have time to acknowledge Gunther's death. Maybe, but they have so much that must be done.

1. Buffy must return to her home time.
2. She must discover what went wrong with the slayer line.
3. She must face FDW.
4. I'm assuming there will also be a showdown with Harth. Could be wrong.
5. Dawn and Xander have to do...something. Get out of the woods? Find Willow? Where are they trying to go now that the castle is blown up?
6. We must learn why FDW is all...Future Dark Willow-y. This could possibly be combined with number 2.
One word will stick in my mind from this issue: "Puffy"

Classic Joss wordplay.
It makes a cold, heartless brand of sense -- it makes a "the statistic's name was Stacey Bluth" sense. Especially since Willow turned out to be down there anyway, I'm thinking shot-in-the-back Buffy might reconsider blowing off saving those ordinary lives if she had it to do over.

I'm rooting for Gunther, too, but the tone of "Time of Your Life" is much, much darker than that of "Sleeper" and Season 7 in general. Gunther will probably surprise long enough to relay... something useful to somebody, and then kick. Right now, the only "Fray" regular I am betting on to survive 8.19 is Erin, and that'll just be so she can be so visibly horrified and broken by seeing her sister killed.

Willow's treatment of Kennedy is just... repellant to me. I honestly despise it. I've read the scene a few times, and for the transcript, and I have a hard time seeing how Willow doesn't view Vasuki as A) a guilty pleasure, and B) her... master or something. She kneels before her and submits like a slave. It's really, really creepy -- didn't this used to be Willow Rosenberg?

Gamer, my theory at the moment is that "Fray" represents the broken future, which is why A) Buffy is seeing it, and B) Joss is going to wipe it out in bloody fashion in 8.19*. Part of that is my own personal theory that the parsing of the Slayer power between Fray and Harth will mean that the power can not be passed onward. Just to add that one more painful twist for Buffy before Willow pulls her back to the present.
I tend to agree with you, KingofCretins, but I disagree with you about Erin. I think it could in fact be the other way 'round. I think Harth will seem like he is going to kill Melaka, but at the last minute, kill Erin. The torture vs. kill route that Angelus loves so much.

Your theory about the parsing of the Slayer power is interesting and makes a weird kind of sense.
I think I'm confused about Willow, or maybe I misread it.

She wasn't having sex with snake-lady; sex with Kennedy was a gateway to get to snake-lady-land. And she talked to Kennedy about it beforehand and explained that that's what they needed to do: "Ken-doll, do you trust me and know that I love you and I'm not a crazy person and what we do is for the greater good cross your heart no backsies?" It was all on the up-and-up.

Or was the "I'll see you soon" at the end implying some kind of affair? Is that what I missed?

Anyway, overall thoughts are that it did feel a bit rushed. There are four storylines going on; I would have preferred three that were more fleshed out, with the non-relevant one (Xander and Dawn) given its own time once the focus returns to the main story.

Other thoughts: Future Dark Willow still doesn't strike me as all that evil. I've got a lot of speculation as to what's going on but I'm not speculating too hard; there is almost definitely more than meets the eye here, so I'm making no judgement just yet.
Good issue, but for some reason, I'm really missing Giles. It feels like season six again with everyone going out of control. He could offer a guiding hand to Willow at least. I hope to see him back soon.
I am loving this, I don't thing that Puffy Buffy is out of character at all, there were definite hints of this in S7 and here in S8, Joss is just making sure we are seeing it straight on through Fray's POV. I does ratchet up the suspense. Along with the suspense of WTF is going on with Willow (!). And will Xander get it on with Dawn (who makes an adorable Chestnut Beauty)?
I'm loving the art, and the pacing, it is all working for me right now.
I posted this bit on another forum, but I thought it was relevant enough to post here:

So... reading it a second time, certain things came back to me. One, I have to say that I agree with Buffy's plan of action. Yes, it may seem callous, but there here's my reasoning. The lurks aren't out to kill, they're hunting parties sent to collect victims for food, yes, but to also be turned into an army. That much I got from Willow's dialogue in #17. The one person who got hurt, that was the person that broke away from the crowd. I take that to mean that the people in the truck were probably not in any immediate danger. So following them back to their lair would have been gravy.
However, having said that, I don't think that Fray was any less right, and while KoC has brought up the issue of her being a stand-in for Wesley, I took her to be a dramatic foil for Buffy. Fray is reacting exactly how Buffy would have when she was younger; impulsively and following her instincts. Buffy on the other hand has learnt that strategy is often key in winning a battle. It has been so in seasons 3, 4, 5, and 7.
And really, if we're going to call Buffy off on her ethics, how bout the same treatment for Fray? At least up to this point, she's willing to sacrifice a Slayer to save the world. Could be that it's a ruse, but as long as we're calling people out, I don't think she's exempt.

As for the resolution of the many plotlines... I don't see why they all need to be wrapped up at the end of this arc. Certain plotlines can probably be carried on after this arc, while certain others necessarily need closure. Whichever way, this has proven to be an excellent third act, and I'm anxiously awaiting the denouement.
I buy about $175 worth of comics a month, and Buffy Season Eight is the one I look forward to the most. Man oh man, it's great to have Buffy's story still continuing.

And of all the arcs so far in Season Eight, I'm finding this one the most gripping. The Future Willow is fascinating to me, and wondering how the current-age Buffyverse came to become Fray's age is such a sweet mystery. As others have said before, I wish this arc was much longer. There's room for so many great stories here.
Maybe Snake Lady is the one who told Willow how to bring Kennedy back from death? That was glossed over, but resurrection is always trouble in the Buffyverse.

I also don't see Buffy's actions in this episode as conclusive evidence of her moral decline. When she was the only one, she threw herself into every battle. Later, she learned to throw others in, not out of callousness, but because she was expected to act on the "big picture."

My biggest question out of this issue is what future Willow showed Melaka to make her turn against Buffy. Rank speculation: Willow is the only (human, or reasonable facsimile) character we know who can put vampire's souls back in them. Maybe she promised Melaka (and Erin) Harth back, thus saving her brother and her world.
I really liked this issue, found it much less confusing than the previous one. Well, I would say that this whole arc has been confusing to me, what with the portal jumping and time travel.

Things about this issue I loved:

Awkward Dawn/Xander moment

Xander: "How're you feeling?"
Dawn: "Like I was ridden hard and put away wet."
Xander: "Agh! Dawn, that dis -- oh. No. It's just true."

I also really love the call back to Band Candy

Meleka: "Summers you drive like a spaz."
Buffy: "That Phrase has stood the test of time"


And did anybody else find the scenes between Willow and evil snake lady hot? (Ok, just me then, lol).

And did anyone else find it confusing when Buffy and Mel's sister were together? I keep asking myself, "Ok, who is who here?" LOL. They really shouldn't have made them both blonde with ponytails. Can get quite confusing.

Wasn't that an issue back in S6 when they told Emma that she would need to change her hair color b/c it would confuse her with Sarah
I seem to remember being under the impression Kennedy knew something weird would be happening, and that Willow's O-Face was from what Kennedy was doing back in the real world, not Demon-lady. I didn't get them having sex, although there is definitely more chem there than with Kennedy, whom I still hate beyond belief and is totally rebounders and headed for the red shirt pile. Either way, her communion with the beast, so to speak, is to set-up the possibility of what was happening in the future.

Although I don't like her leaving Fray so easily, I think Buffy is right on several counts from her perspective, a la: the vamps aren't killing those people right away, strategy over rush-ins, she's now den mother over an army of slayers, not the only one who can protect the humans, and one thing you're all forgetting to state: She's in, from HER perspective, a POSSIBLE future that's she gets to go back and try to correct. We've read Fray so we think it's set in stone, but from Buffy's perspective, everyone in this future is expendable because they may not even exist after she gets back to her own time, and she DOESNT WANT THEM TO. Also, I too am not entirely convinced of dark haired, veiny Willow's evilness. The amount of power it takes to stay alive may have altered her appearance and attitude to a certain degree, but what if she's like Luke in the novels after Star Wars, harnessing both Dark and Light Forces?

I think it's simple to say that Dark Willow told Fray that Buffy intends on changing the future, thus ending Melaka's world. And what does Melaka Fray do? She saves HER world. I think Fray's end will not be in blood, but in Marty McFly-style fade away.

Finally, we all have to keep in mind, this is not taking place simultaneously with After the Fall, this is taking place at the same time as Angel S5, which is when Angel is going through his similar losing-the-mission-or-is-he? crisis. I like to read an arc of S8, and then watch an ep of Angel S5. It keeps me grounded. It's why there can't be any crossovers until later in After the Fall and/or late in a hypothetical S9. There's a year of lag between the two, which is why I was so weirded out by ATF coming out so soon. I always wanted Angel & Co. to be saved by an army of slayers in that alley. But I still feel plagued by different-network-itis. No crossovers, except in vague references. But now we get to see why Willow couldn't help. She's probably on the Astral Plane with demon lady, so she can't help save Fred. I wonder if Buffy will be making an executive decision by letting Los Angeles fall into hell, to save the rest of the world? Hmmm.

[ edited by PuppetDoug on 2008-09-05 08:57 ]
Maybe she promised Melaka (and Erin) Harth back, thus saving her brother and her world.

Plot thickens but the characters more so. Xander is a constant, also Harth but none of the women seem quite what they seemed. Dawn is a big whiny giant no more, as a centaur she cracks wise and kicks against the dicks. I think this shows growth (although obviously not literally).

Willow: I can see why she doesn’t count the thing with the snake lady as a betrayal. She’s not in love with her and it’s for the pursuit of knowledge rather than power. Sure fun was had getting there but no more than with Tara in that S4 body-switch episode. Willow has never been good at seeing what she does from anyone else’s perspective. There’s a lot of call-backs in this issue and for Willow that “It’s Buffy – we have to get her back” is very Bargaining (which ended badly for “ the woman she loved” last time). Also temporal folds, wasn’t that what she and Anya were trying to do in Doppelgangland? Willow keeps saying she doesn’t have that power but I wonder if Future!Willow might not be a product of her finding she did (as Vamp!Willow was previously).

Buffy as ever very different depending on who she’s with. With Erin, a stranger, she plays the clothes obsessed ditz but when alone she’s very big picture, she knows exactly why she called the Slayers, she’s a woman with a mission to make a difference that she genuinely believes in. I find it hard to see this as a moral decline – although it is a change from S3 Buffy unthinkingly making decisions based on personal loyalties. Like a dog, as the mayor put it. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that she meant to sacrifice the upper Haddyn vamp victims, it looked more as if she wanted stop Melaka from just jumping in and staking all the leads in a Faith-like frenzy. If that were the plan it actually worked – one Slayer to rescue the victims and one to follow the vamps back to Lurk Central. As for Melaka, I wonder about the significance of that strange green tinge to her gun side in the final panel. It’s the same colour as Willow’s magic and it doesn’t take a lot of magic for Willow to influence other people’s actions by more than simple persuasion.
If Willow again goes down the path of power, Tara's death will have become meaningless. All that happened after it took place would have been for naught. As it is, Kennedy has become a means to an end, and the fact that it has some fun in it does not change that- truth is, Willow could get there just as easily with, you know, something twixt her nethers that runs on batteries. I am definitely with quantumac on this issue.

What I don't understand is why Joss is screwing around so much with these characters. And before you all jump on me and tell me the story is not told, I understand that- but to me, these are not the characters that were standing there by the crater at the end of S7. They had come through the fire and were purged, Willow in particular, or so we were led to believe. And now, they are all damaged critters once again, only we do not have any clue why.

But I hold to what I have previously said- this is all set-up to doing something in the future that alters that same future and instead of ending the slayer line, preserves it. Last week, I read the final strip in the comic series "For Better or For Wrose." And I was certain that Lynn Johnson was going to end the series with the marriage of Elizabeth and the death of Grandpa Jim. BUt you know what? She didn't; Jim survived (and hung around long enough, in the coda strip, to see the birth of Elizabeth's first child). I mention this because every now and again, a good happens- and maybe for once Joss will actually go there instead of the same old thing.
I'm offering five to one odds in favour of Gunther Vs. Lurks.

5. Dawn and Xander have to do...something. Get out of the woods? Find Willow? Where are they trying to go now that the castle is blown up?

Xander and Dawn have just lucked upon some unexpected allies, this may either delight or enrage Buffy when she returns to find that Xander's just recruited some anti-human monsters. Should certainly complicate the upcoming story in which...

A minute's silence for Gunther's Butler and/or Right Hand Man. (refusing to make a joke about his life of crime being tragically cut short...unless you just read this)
I'm getting a "Back to the Future" vibe about this arc.

Remember how photos would erase or the "you're fired" note erased at the end of BTTF 3? And Doc Brown saying "of course it erased, your future hasn't been written yet?"

So when Buffy returns to her time, figures out who is going to betray her, and lead to the end of the slayer line and of magicks, and ultimately stops that all from happening and defeats Twilight, won't that mean that Fray's future would be erased? Ultimately, erasing Fray herself?

I don't get the vibe that we're going to see Fray actually killed by Willow or Harth. But I can see her existence fading away, when Buffy saves the day in Season Eight.

There are talks of a Season Nine, so does this sound about right to anyone else?

I can see Buffy at the end of Season Eight, after defeating Twilight, thinking about Fray and whether or not that future could still be possible.

Not sure a Season Nine could top Season Eight though.
Intriguing thoughts, hayes62 :)
I thought the Willow's pretext implied that Kennedy knew about snake lady, or at least enough to know something... You can't tell someone you love them and then cheat on them five seconds later? Something is definitely ambiguous here, I don't think our ambivalence is unwarrented.

Also I miss Giles too! I am still holding out for that Faith/Giles spin-off (or at least mini-series). *fingers crossed*

My predictions for next issue: romance builds for Dawn and Xander, Erin dies. Who knows though. I also think that Hearth, Fray, FDW (hmm a bit prefix-ey for my liking) will be unscathed (physically). I think it may be an everyone leaves situation, and the end of the episode is just Fray left all alone in her future, building on the lonliness/aloneness theme. This is from someone who thinks that Harth is Twilight though, so he has to go back in time at some point IMO.

Anyway, enjoyed the issue. Xander/Dawn moments were my favorite! (Although Puffy was excellent also).
With all the time-travelly going on, I'm wondering if Twilight could possibly be some version of future Buffy, come back to ensure that Buffy now becomes Buffy later. It would certainly be the ultimate betrayal. (And future veiny Willow maybe not evil after all, but trying to prevent now Buffy from becoming future Buffy).
Future Willow's speech definitely brought Angelus to mind for me, with his whole "To kill this girl... you have to love her" perspective. And yet, I'm one of those who doesn't see see Willow necessarily falling back on bad habits here. I agree that the last issue seemed to imply that Willow was being on the up-and-up with Kennedy about the reason they were frakking. And Willow's expression afterward is not the face of someone who's stepping over her friends in order to gain power.

Future Willow may be a "madwoman", but we have yet to see that she's actually evil. And Harth isn't just an ordinary lurk. He's the one who's connected to the Slayer line the way Mel should have been. The overarcing theme for Season 8 has been connection. And I'm guessing that that's why Willow joined up with him in the first place. Whatever happened to the Slayer line, the chain might just be the key.

Oddly enough, I'm thinking of Serverus Snape now and wondering if Willow be on the path of the dark, morally ambiguous character who's shown to be one of the general's most loyal followers in the end.
I just finished reading the Buffy one, it was really interesting. Buffy had really changed since Sunnydale, she became more like Giles, seeing the big picture. Fray is more like Sunnydale!Buffy. I really loved the Buffy-Fray stuff, they'd make interesting meta.

The Willow stuff are also interesting. Right now I feel so bad for poor Kennedy.
I don't often do the predictions thing ('cause I'm mostly wrong when I do...) and I think I'll pass this time, too, but: - some comments on this issue:

In Season Five, Buffy would have let the entire world go down to try and protect Dawn; the needs of the few outweighing the needs of the many. In Season Seven, she tells Giles that now, faced with that choice, she'd let Dawn die; she'd learned that sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Now, in Season Eight, we see her willing to sacrifice several people just to track a bunch of vampires too their lair - something she never would have done previously. So, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme; she may be looking at the Big Picture, but she hasn't yet learned how to balance the needs of the many against the few.

Willow, still around after a couple of hundred years... something that crossed my mind way back was that all the energies Willow channeled through her body must have had some lasting effect on her, and after she took an axe in the back to no effect, I've been wondering: is she entirely human after her trip to the dark side? Now, Future Dark Willow says that she isn't, and hasn't been for quite some time. Hmm.

Is anybody but me getting the feeling that Saga Vasuki may not be the Evil that we've been assuming? Kumiko was (is?) Evil, but then, Kumiko is a vampire; we have no idea what she was like before she was turned. She tells Willow she was a student of Vasuki's, too, but was that before she was turned, after, or both? Vasuki's presence is sometimes menacing, at other times... not so much. I'm getting more of a neutral vibe from her. In asking Willow not to look, is it possible she's acting in Willow's interest? Some of the dialogue here makes me think I've missed something, and I think I'll go back this weekend and re-read the entire story up to now.

Willow bowing before Vasuki as if she's Willow's master; well, in a sense, she is, isn't she? Willow has been studying under her. I spent quite a few years studying Shaolin-Do. At the time, each session began and ended with a kneeling bow, which the Grand Master returned, and each student's presentation began with a standing formal bow, which was also returned. It was just part of the ritual; I haven't seen him in a number of years now, but I would still offer him the formal bow as a sign of respect if we met.

Kennedy may not know everything that's been going on with Willow and Saga Vasuki, but she's not entirely in the dark, either - between her mystical death and Willow's talk before their "spell", I think it should be obvious that she knew this session was about the Magick, not "The Sex". Nor is sex magick anything overly unusual, even in the Real World (look up the term "Great Rite".) I don't, however, think she'll be real happy with Willow if she ever does get all the details. By the way, I found her wide, self-satisfied smile afterwards hilarious. I still like Kennedy, and the bashers can just bite me. (Or, well.. please don't, but you know what I mean.)

Xander: "More importantly, did you just say, 'Thus swears'?" ROFLMFA completely Off!!! That was exactly my reaction when I saw the preview.

What the hell did Future Dark Willow show Melaka? And what exactly did Buffy do that sent Willow down this path?

Lurks don't breathe, but that doesn't make water their natural environment, either. That match could go either way.

Not everything is about Tara (or Buffy, for that matter; it may be Buffy's story, but it's always struck me as being nearly as much about her friends' individual journeys - particularly Willow's - as it is hers.) I do get the feeling that Willow has overextended herself again, one might even say she's been naughty; but I get the feeling that Buffy's "naughty" will have farther-reaching consequences, for a lot more people. And I can see a half-dozen ways this story could go from here.
In fact, rowan, almost nothing is about Tara; she is the forgotten love of Willow's life, which is why I am having so much trouble with this storyline. I mean, jeez, she was essentially forgotten in S7, save for one grave visit, one representation by Cassie, and one episode designed to shift her love to her replacement. And this was Willow's great love. So how did we get from Willow's healing during S7, to her whiteness and absolution at the end when she cast her activation spell, to this magical creature who apparently is abusing her lover to spend time with a goddess that might also be her master and perhaps lover? This flies in the face of all that Tara meant. It is like a betrayal. Now, I know the story is not yet told, but the inferences, which is all we have, are really troubling. Did Willow go through all of that, suffer all that pain, and learn nothing at all? And then become evil yet again? WWTS?

As for Buffy, who is she now? A woman willing to rob banks to finance her operations, to sacrifice humans to gather intelligence. This is not the Buffy we know either; it is as if after all that happened in S7, she, too, learned nothing at all. We see all sorts of jsutifcations offered above by canny posters, but truth is, we do not know how she ended up like this- because the story has been written to not give us that background information. We do not know what happened between them standing at the crater and the beginning of S8. we do not know why Giles and Buffy really are on the outs, why Dawn is really a giant and a Centaur (thricewise notwithstanding), how Willow survived her lobotomy, etc. And given the glacial pace of the storytelling, it may be 2 years before we do. I left Lost after just one for failing to answer questions, but hey, that's me. YMMV.
Buffy doesn't want to stop because she sees the bigger picture - fixing the timeline so that the woman calling for help will never need it.

Forgive an odd comparison, but this makes her more pragmatic than that other hero stuck in flying-cars-future-time Samurai Jack, who would always hold off returning to his own time to solve an immediate problem. I love him for that, but I must admit I'd probably do what Buffy did in their position. And feel pretty skew about it afterwards.
Brief digression: Remember the kerfuffle over the fact that Buffy Season 8 was supposed to get a one-word subtitle starting around issue 6, and no one would say what it was because it was a spoiler, and then it never showed up?

I asked about that yesterday, and apparently the subtitle was/is "Twilight". For whatever reason, it was never actually used, and honestly is not really much of a spoiler.

I *just* finished reading this comic and while it's still fresh in my brain I must say some things. (Maybe some things that others won't like).

First let me start by saying I am a lesbian. Like many of 'us' I adored Tara. After reading this comic....I can not unsee what I just saw. It really (truly) grosses me out to see Willow with "Ken-doll." Especially like *that*. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm all about a lil' girl-on-girl action just seems...hmmm...gratuitous at this point. It seems that the comic is going out of it's way to make fanboys all over the world their pants. Making Buffy bi/gay/whatever is SO out of character. At first I defended it, "Oh..she's a young woman just experimenting because that's what young women do." After reading this issue I feel exploited. Not me personally but...ya know..'us'. The Willow-loving part of me really dug that one panel...oh yes. But just knowing that it's Kennedy helping Wil get to happyland really really really (boils my blood) grosses me out. Ick ick ick ick.

Other than all of that I liked this issue. I just want to know what that green glow-y thing in Willows hand was. Don't we all?
almost nothing is about Tara

Tara was a secondary character (As is Kennedy.) Important to Willow, important to her journey, but still a secondary character in terms of the story. Lots of fans have characters that they want the comics to center around, but if they dealt with all the fan-service being clamored for, there wouldn't be any time for the current story. Even if they'd just done one issue for each character that's being "ignored", or each "fill-in" that the fans want, they'd just now be getting starting on the actual story. Think fans wouldn't be having a conniption about that?

And given the glacial pace of the storytelling, it may be 2 years before we do. I left Lost after just one for failing to answer questions, but hey, that's me.

You know, if a weekly hour-long TV show doesn't get around to something in a year, I might be gone, too (in fact, I quit "Lost" myself, before the end of the first season.) But the fact is, we don't have a weekly hour-long TV show, we have a monthly comic, each of which is about the equivalent of one-fourth of an episode. An orange doesn't taste like a pizza, either, but I just understand that it is what it is. Luckily, I happen to like both.

I wish we could get the comics more frequently, I really do; patience isn't one of my virtues. But it's an unrealistic wish. Comics require a pretty hefty lead time, and to get them out any faster would require either holding the first issues longer before starting to release them - which means more expense that isn't being covered (the people who actually do the work on the issues need to get paid while they're working instead of waiting a year) - or it would require cutting corners in the production. Now there'd be people upset about the artwork (or maybe I should say "more upset") or the lettering, or the print quality, or the Take Your Pick. And I will guarantee that if the comics were raising questions and answering them all in the same issue, there'd be no end of complaining about that, too - there are fans now complainig that the writing is "light", or "fluffy", even while others are complaining that there's "too much" going on in them. *sigh* Ah, hell, no matter what, it'll never be right.

"Well, it's all right now,
Learned my lesson well.
See, you can't please everyone,
So you gotta please yourself."
"Tara was a secondary character (As is Kennedy.)

Does this mean that Kennedy will die too? Because I can not WAIT for that issue.
rowan- all this I know. My point was not that it was about Tara; it was about Willow. Here she is, having lost the love of her life, and for much of S7 it was as if Tara never existed. Like I said, there were basically 3 times when Tara was in play, for all that she was so critical to Willow's development. I would think it would not be all that easy to get over that loss. But I also think that if Tara had ever meant anything at all to Willow, Willow would not be going down the road of power and evil again.

New Computer! iMac! Love it!
"But I also think that if Tara had ever meant anything at all to Willow, Willow would not be going down the road of power and evil again."

It's like Tara's death was in vain if Willow goes all grrr again.
Sometimes, death is in vain.

In fact, it almost always is.
And I'm still not convinced Willow IS going grrr. There's plenty of story to play out before we actually know what's going on in her head. Granted, first impressions in the Buffyverse are almost always a completely accurate reflection of what's going on beneath the surface... ;)
It takes the comic two days to get from the States to Germany, so I just caught up (and yes, I'm new here -- hi!).

Buffy might seem cold, but I don't really see her OOC. Ever since Season 7, it has been stressed that "she's the general, we're the army". That implies she'd sacrifice a small unit for a large victory. Melaka, on the other hand, has little experience as a leader and still thinks and acts like a single Slayer. I really liked this exchange because to me it shows how much Buffy has changed over the years.

I agree with Knuckleball -- it felt like pages were missing, between Buffy crashing the car and having the gun shoved in her face. I thought Buffy had been caught on the ledge or something. Confusing.

Are we really, really sure that this is evil dark Willow? Could it not just be exhausted, half-crazed, guilt-racked dark Willow whose color is the result of whatever happened to the magic? I think it is still too early in the season for The Great Betrayal to be coming from this Willow, and I'm guessing that Buffy is going to get back home without ever knowing that FDW was there.

Do I get this right, Willow can only visit Snake Lady if she is in happy-land, and somebody has to help her get there? The "after" panel is brilliant, with Willow looking ashamed and Ken with that grin. We're missing a lot of background info, tho, maybe too much for the story to bear.

Which brings me to Death is my Gift - I'm not sure I understand what you are disgusted about. Willow is gay and has been for years now, and if happy-land is the gate to Snake Lady, whom else would she pick? If you accept the happy-land gate, then it is in character, and we don't know what Ken knows or doesn't know about all of this. Would you feel better if a man had helped Willow over? Is it the happy-land gate itself that bothers you? Or simply too much lesbian sex?

And finally, I don't think Joss is going to kill Fray's world. Much better to have a great final scene with Melaka, pull Buffy back through the rift, close the rift, and never ever explain what happened to them all. We'd go insane with theories and scenarios and endless fanfic, whine and beg and plead for Joss to tell us, and all he has to do is smile. Years later, he could still pick up the story if he wants to.

Uh. I hope he's not reading this.
Yes, theonetruebix. I agree.
And I don't. But that's because I am studying bioethics, and I know that often death really is a gift and very much wanted by the person who is dying. Definitely not in vain.

scotws, I am not sure I read the comment about Kennedy the same wy you did. I think death is my gift is more commenting on the fact that Kennedy has to agree to be used. And that troubles her- it does me, as well. As I noted, she could just as easily do the Kaylee battery-powered nethers routine to get to that "happy land."
But we weren't discussing the person who dies. We were discussing the people left behind.

And most of the time, it's just someone dying, not someone dying to give some sort of meaning or change of life to the people left behind.
I'm thinking that the problem might be that some of us don't think Willow should be able to get that happy wiith Kennedy or anyone else except her second great love. And who knows what "evil" even *is* for our Wil anymore?

Not saying these are or aren't my own takes, just trying to be a translator here.
Again, otb, I disagree- but I am bleeding reality into our discussions. When you do a few ethics consults, you begin to understand what meaning those left behind ascribe to the death of a loved one.
You actually make the point I was dancing around: Meaning is ascribed, not inherent. Death is just death, unless someone's thrown themselves on a grenade for you. Other than that, some people might make meaning out of it, but some don't. (And I'm certainly not arguing that it's somehow wrong or mistaken to do so.)

But what I am arguing is that it makes no sense to me for people to be worrying that Tara's death might somehow have been in vain. It's never been anything OTHER than in vain, except in the meaning ascribed to it by others -- be those others Buffy characters or Buffy viewers.

ETA that, in all honesty, I'm baffled by the meaning ascribed to Tara's death. Tara's death accomplished only sending Willow to the dark side. It certainly didn't do anything good or redemptive to Willow. So how, exactly, are people seeing Tara's death as not having been in vain?

Buffy's season five death is an example of a death not in vain, because it saved Dawn. Tara's death did nothing but kill Tara and screw over Willow.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-09-05 23:18 ]
I feel that this is a topic that a lot of people have very extreme feelings about. So I'm going to watch what I say.

Tara was the love of Willow's life. She will never love anyone like she loved Tara. Does this mean she cannot ever love again? Does this mean she is doomed to a life of grief over the untimely death of her lover? No. Tara wouldn't want that, and neither should we. In real life, people lose people that they love, grieve, but may also fall in love again. This is not in disrespect to their former love. You can be in love with someone alive and still love someone who has passed just as much as you ever did. That will never change.

Willow loves Tara. But she also loves Kennedy. Heck, she loves Oz, a guy. All of these loves are different, neither one overshadowing or being disrespectful to another. Love is forever. Relationships are not.

As far as Willow's abuse of power; that has gone far beyond Tara. It started before Tara died. Willow neglected her wishes then, and Tara left. And Willow didn't decide to change because of Tara alone. She decided to change because she was hurting EVERYONE that she loved. But when Tara died, she went off the deep end.

I know several alcoholics. They all say that, even though they have been sober for years, they are still alcoholics. Still prone to their addiction. They are not the same as they were before. This, I feel, was nailed on the head in S7. Willow's relapse may have started because of Tara, but it soon escalated into something much bigger. By the end, it wasn't about Tara, it was about Willow's addiction, and how she can never be fully freed from it, no matter how much she loves and respects the memory of Tara.

Tara was a great character. She was an example for Willow of how to be, and was innocent and good. But, as life, or the Buffyverse, is not a fairy tale, innocent people can die. And, in the case of Joss's stories, often do, as their deaths often are the most painful.

As with Willow and the Snake Lady, I get the feeling we are only scratching the surface here, and that we don't know enough to judge how bad/good it is.

That was just my, amazingly long, 2 cents.
This'll get bumped off the front page soon so I've linked to this discussion on the sidebar.
A big, fat "amen, amen" to theonetruebix and Giles_314. Extremely well said, both of you.
Well, I see things different, otb and Giles. :-) I think death inherently has meaning, both to the person who dies and the people left behind. I know what you are saying- all deaths are just deaths, and we make of them what we will. Of course. But the point here is that this is a tale we are discussing. Tara existed in the tale for a reason, and her death occurred for a reason. It was part of an arc. And now, what happened in that death seems to have been put aside and forgotten. The meaning of that death- in the tale- has been or may be in process of being diminished or simply ignored. It may very well be that Willow has changed, and no longer cares. But I don't really buy that. Tara was an important part of Willow's arc- it is hard to imagine her as she is now without Tara's involvement, which is not what I could equally say about, say, Oz. I'd like to think that in the context of the tale, Tara actually had meaning, and was not just some secondary character needed to advance Willow's arc- though indeed that is part of what she was, again of course. But to me it is a sad statement that Joss would have put Willow through what he did only to have her come out the other side the same as she was before. That is not character development; it's just tactics. She is how she is now because of her relation with Tara; Tara's death led to the most horrible time of her life, a time she only got through with the help of Kennedy. But again I say that for all that Willow lost the love of her life, you sure cannot tell it from S7 or 8. Tara has been a non-part of Willow, and I cannot really buy that this is simply because life goes on. It is, in point of fact, simply a writing decision, and I often wonder why it is Joss has left her out in the cold. But again, that's me, and I don't expect anyone to agree with me here. Story of my life!
Life does go on. Or at least, in the Real World, for many, many people, it does. It has to. Because everybody dies. Not everybody dies a hero's death. Not everybody dies to make a Point. Not everybody dies because of crazy coincidence, or sheer accident, or because some capricious supernatural being has a warped sense of humor. Not everybody dies to Save the World. But everybody dies. If people have to believe that everybody's death has meaning in order to deal with it, fine; but "bioethics" notwithstanding, feel-good mumbo-jumbo notwithstanding, everybody's death means one thing in the final analysis: that the deceased at least has moved on. People don't forget the loss of a loved one. But people have to get on with their lives. Or they have to stop living themselves.

Quoting myself from somewhere else a few months ago:
Willow was only 22, for chrissake, and it makes me sad to think of my favorite character spending the rest of her life alone and in mourning. I don't think she should forget Tara, and I don't believe anyone ever forgets a love like that, but getting on with your life is not the same as forgetting.

By the way, just an FYI, I took my wife out to dinner at her favorite restaurant tonight for our anniversary: tomorrow makes 32 years we've been married, 34 that we've been together. She's pretty much all I've ever had, and I'm not sure how I'd handle it if something happened to her; but if I die tomorrow, I hope she'll find somebody else instead of wasting away for another 30 or 40 years. That's no way to live, and there's nothing romantic about it for the ones who go through it.

Signing off...
Well, yeah, but you again miss my point. I'm still talking about the tale here, you know? Nothing happens in the tale that isn't put there by the writer, so it all has meaning. OMG, I am sounding all authorial intent here, God help me!

(And it's bioethics, not "bioethics," okay? I'm not sure how to read your use of the quotation marks here).

I congratulate you on such a strong marriage. I am in number 2 for me; the first lasted 23 years, and this one is 5 years in and as good as it gets.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2008-09-06 02:34 ]
Well, yeah, but you again miss my point. I'm still talking about the tale here, you know? Nothing happens in the tale that isn't put there by the writer, so it all has meaning.

Then "bioethics" had nothing to do with it (and those are quotes. They illustrate, you know, a quote? Because I'm not going to do the whole div thing for one word.) and was irrelevant to the question. And, frankly, it's irrelevant, anyway:
Bioethics is the philosophical study of the ethical controversies brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, philosophy, and theology.

None of which has anything to do with the reality of whether or not a given person's death may or may not "have meaning" in any objective sense.
Nothing happens in the tale that isn't put there by the writer

Of course. So, then, nothing in a work of fiction should ever resemble reality? No one would ever make a mistake, make a wrong decision, do something that they regret later? Nobody can ever die by sheer bad luck? And where do you draw the line between "have meaning" for the story and "have meaning" in a real, objective sense? And who gets to decide that?

Or is it only certain things that can't ever be allowed to resemble reality?
It's awesome to see all of this discussion. Most everything has being covered I'd just like to add my thoughts.

1) Buffy's betrayal scene in 8.10 looks to be in a castle, Harth's castle perhaps? IMO definitely. And it has to be Willow.
2) I don't think FDW is all that bad...I think she's here (in the future) to help stop the world from becoming what it is. I think Buffy is going to be the one seen in the dark light, not just Willow.
3) Willow's snake-lady affair is going to cause a disruption and eventual break up between Willow and Kennedy, thus opening the doors for the return of Tara. She has to come back.
Okay, this conversation seems to be getting a little heated. I would just like to remind everyone that this is a civilized, intelligent discussion. Sarcasm, while occasionally humorous, is generally uncalled for.

Anyway, Dana5140, I never said that death, fictional or otherwise, couldn't have meaning. I am just a little confused as to what Tara's death is supposed to mean. I have thought about it every which way, and I have come to the conclusion that Tara's death has no meaning, or at least not one I am smart enough to figure out. She didn't die as a result of something Willow did. She died because of a random act of violence by a stupid little boy with a gun. Her death didn't teach Willow the dangers of going dark, as she would have died whether Willow had gone dark or not. Also, she already knew that from her previous "rock-bottom," earlier in the season.

Regardless of whether Tara's death meant something or not, I completely disagree with your statement that Willow is the same person she was before Tara. She is in fact, completely different; mostly as a result of Tara. Her magical prowess, a key point of her current character, would not have evolved as such without Tara in her life. In some instances, it seems as though "good magic" or "selfless magic" is a small tribute to their love. She helped Willow discover her sexuality. Most of Willow's actions this season seem to come from guilt over bringing Buffy back, as that action indirectly lead to Tara's death.

As Tara is a secondary character, who was in a relationship with one of the the main 4, she was a character development device first, and her own character second. Her primary job is to advance Willow's story, just as Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike, and Satsu all advance Buffy's story.

Oz's role was to make Willow into a more confident person. Tara's job was to help Willow find her true potential, and her sexuality. Kennedy's job was to help Willow live through her grief after Tara's death, and to become comfortable with her power again. I will admit, at this point, Kennedy seems to have no more purpose. This leads me to believe that she will either break up with Willow and become a stronger character in her own right, or possibly just get the axe.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, EX. I don't think the betrayal is going to come this early, though. I have a feeling we still have a ways to go. Could be wrong, though.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2008-09-06 04:42 ]
I'm just going to add a few more thoughts conerning the death of Tara and meaning. I have to agree with Giles and Rowan, especially when Rowan wrote:

"Of course. So, then, nothing in a work of fiction should ever resemble reality? No one would ever make a mistake, make a wrong decision, do something that they regret later? Nobody can ever die by sheer bad luck? And where do you draw the line between "have meaning" for the story and "have meaning" in a real, objective sense? And who gets to decide that?"

I think this is why a lot of us are Whedon fans. Because he creates fantasy worlds that project very human realities. I think Tara's death is the best example of that.

Also just a big ups to everyone involved in the discussion. It's incredible that this much discussion and this specific topic of discussion can be created by story. I love it.
I rarely step into discussions this deep but I feel compelled to this time. I agree with b!x. Tara's death was in vain, Willow's story arc or no.

Dana5140, you said Nothing happens in the tale that isn't put there by the writer, so it all has meaning.

My reply to you is that yes, Tara's death had meaning and the meaning was that sometimes, death is void of meaning and when such a thing happens, it leaves those behind mindless, wasted, pain-filled shells of humanity existing day to day and moment by moment because the heart beats even if it feels like it's broken beyond repair. Until one day the realization that life goes on sinks in.

Death does not always have meaning and I say that as a mother who has lost a daughter to SIDS.
Death does not always have meaning in Joss's worlds. Look at Anya, look at Joyce... look at Wash, look at Loo.

menomegirl, my heart breaks for you. I hovered over my children's cribs in fear of that very thing many, many a night. So, so sorry for your loss.
Thank you, Willowy. I appreciate it. I wasn't looking for sympathy though. That's something I don't mention often but the discussion struck a raw nerve, I suppose and I had to reply. I'm sorry if what I said was overly harsh but I had a point to make and did it the best way I knew how.
I believe that in the end, death always has meaning in how the person affected those left behind. Tara will always have meaning to Willow, and she can never forget her, even if she died in vain, she lives on. It doesn't mean Willow will not make bad choices, but it means that she will always have that love in her heart.

menomegirl, I am also truly sorry for your loss. I cannot even imagine how painful that would be.
I believe that in the end, death always has meaning in how the person affected those left behind.

But that's more their life having meaning, not their death, isn't it?
Most ominous line of the issue?

"If we're a little late, forgive us."
I'd like to respond, but in light of the comments from menomegirl, I don't think it would be productive- and let me add my sincere and heartfelt condolences for such a loss. I am only talking about a fiction here, a story, and this discussion is at this point not really worth advancing any further. In any event, we're parsing words too deeply. I was upset at the quotation marks around the word bioethics because it could be read to diminish what it is; you know, how some people use their hands to put a quotation mark around a word as they say it? If it was simply to use a word I said as a quote, fine, but that was not how I saw it.

Really, it's an interesting thread, but enough said.
I'd rather see Willow's o, in a throwback to the flaming o in "Who Are You?", in a scene in which Kennedy knows exactly what role she is playing than read tacky lines like Dawn's "Like I was ridden hard and put away wet."

"That's 'Chestnutty beauty'" made me laugh though.

I'm really enjoying in this arc. I just wish it was longer. It's going to a packed final issue.
Yeah, I have no idea how they can wrap all this up in just one more issue. I have a bad feeling about Gunther though.
Having finally read it, I'm more curious than ever as to how this will play out.

My Willow as parallell to Adam Warlock scenario is still lookign plausible, unpleasantly so.

MEaning for Tara's death? Perhaps that she knew full well that she was moving back in with a bunch of folks who live in the face of danger all the time, that she chose to rejoin the army, and she fell in the cause regardless of where she was. Liek an officer ina World War II army stabbed to death by a delinquent soldier he was taking to a miltary prison, or the private in storage depot killed by a fallign case of corned beef.
Perhaps that she knew full well that she was moving back in with a bunch of folks who live in the face of danger all the time, that she chose to rejoin the army..

That's not meaning. That would be a choice she made while she was alive.
I just got a copy of the issue today, and, well...pretty much everything has been said. But I'll go ahead and concur that this issue was good, but rushed (my opinion may change on a re-read, as has happened before); Future Dark Willow is not evil; Fray very well may be wiped from existence next issue (as I have been speculating for months); the characters are the same people they've always been, just believably altered with time and experience, and watching them go down dark(er) paths is sad yet deeply fascinating; and yes, this might be the first month where Angel: After the Fall bested Buffy S8. Which is an accomplishment.

Good stuff.

And I don't. But that's because I am studying bioethics, and I know that often death really is a gift and very much wanted by the person who is dying. Definitely not in vain. - This makes me go, "Huh?" on so many levels. That kind of flies in the face of all of the innocent folks randomly killed for no rhyme or reason. I mean, my grandpa died yesterday, and he certainly had been in pain for a long time so it was good for him, but this is not always true. I know, Dana5140, that you didn't want to continue this discussion, but I just read the thread today and wanted to respond.
I think this comes down to a basic misunderstanding of the nature of storytelling, not life. I think we've gone into the life thing, and people are getting really personally involved in a story discussion because of its implications. But right there, Tara's death has meaning. And that's what needs to be understood. Everything is put down by a writer, which means it has meaning. This is correct. But the meaning is to you, not to Willow or Buffy or any of the fictional characters that lived with her. And the reason Joss's deaths have such personal impacts on us is that, at their best, they are treated like human deaths, not fantasy ones. Jonathan was a minor character that long time watchers loved, so his death had an element of the fantastic and important to it -- he died to open the hellmouth. The meaning inherent in killing a character you've purposefully kept insignificant for seven years (I count the unaired pilot as Jonathan's first appearance because I heart him) is that even insignificant people can die with significance. But this, in the end, is the comfort of all sci-fi and fantasy. Death with meaning to the overall story. It's what we would all like, and so as shitty as it is, it's actually comforting. At the other end of the spectrum, Joyce was extremely important to our main character, as much as Giles is to the Sunnydale Buffy's ability to get through the day, and her death was a human death. An aneurysm. No heroic last lines, no magical curses, no demon spears, not even the action sequence of a bullet Tara got. Just death. The inherent meaning here is that sometimes the most important person in your life just dies. Stories following such deaths are supposed to have meaning to us -- that life must go on in the face of horror, or life becomes meaningless. I've lost people in my life, but as the years go by, I don't think of them EVERYDAY. This would be paralyzing. The episode (sorry, don't know name off hand) where Willow becomes Warren was there to deal with the guilt of that phenomena. The ability of the human animal to move on, for horror to fade, and day-to-day activity to resume. And keep in mind, if what I just heard is true, this story is a year after "Chosen", which means Willow's had two years and three months to grieve before this story, and she did a lot more grieving that first day than any of the rest of us get to.

Tara's death has meaning because she died, and that hurt us, shocked us, and as "Dark" as Willow became, we were with her in her pain, and her journey will be a long one of addiction that began long before Tara. The meaning of her death is that Willow has no anchor. Tara was the only thing that could keep her in check. Kennedy is not up to the task, but I still can't see Willow going "Evil" without a major catalyst, like what happened to Wesley at the end of S3 Angel -- loss of all friends, only for her they would have to be dead. To a Willow like that, the ultimate battle that wiped magic from the Earth would be the most horrific event that ever happened, because it killed all her friends. And if she's still alive, she's probably responsible for it. Who else would be? It would explain her lack of magic. Her entire purpose would probably be to keep the future she's in from happening, which works with Willow's character (bringing Buffy back seems to be her raison detre).

[ edited by PuppetDoug on 2008-09-07 04:09 ]
Loved this issue. It felt really enjoyable. Some are saying it felt like filler. I disagree because it was moving the story forward, however it felt really comfortable too.

Love where Joss is taking Willow and Buffy. I can't wait for more of it. And bad horse Dawn, what's her part in all this?
The need for Giles in S8 is maddening. I'm sure something is brewing with Faith and all...but too bad. I realized what is missing from S8 is the heart: which for me was always Giles and Xander. Xander, I figured, would have gone a darker route after the killing of Renee, but that turned out a wash (which is pretty lame, IMO). He is still there to provide the role, but with only Dawn around Xander ends up neutered in the plot department.

Without Giles everything goes bananas. It's just that simple. We all know it. <--- Memo to Joss.

Willow annoys me. I'm sick of Willow. It's cool as a story development, true, but her "character" has been damaged since S6. She either needs to go bad for good or revert, because this in-between "I'm tempted and powerful but oh no I'm still Willow cause I occasionally make with the funny snark" phase just continues to demolish her as a character. The end of magic would do nothing but wonders for Willow, so here's hoping.

Also, if Gunther is dead, that sucks. I agree with whoever said they think Harth will kill Erin, and I think that's a perfect route. No need to mass-murder everyone in the universe, especially one with such potential.

@ Hee: What if Dawn really is Bad Horse? We're watching the beginnings of the Thorough-Bred of Sin! Ah, the series mash up. A time honored tradition. Now if only Harth becomes Fake Thomas Jefferson.
S8 is feeling a lot like S6 at the mo'. I think Giles' absence has a lot to do with it. That parental "always knows what to do"-yness of him is extremely comforting. Buffy could have really used Giles in S6 (albeit that would have gone against why he left, but still.) I think that they need to resolve their issues, as they would be both better off for it. Hopefully one of the upcoming one-shots will repair their relationship.
@bknick: Willow has been a problem as a character ever since she became the most powerful person in the world at the end of S6 -- just what do you do with somebody like that? How does an author fit her in the story? Well, in S7, you make her terrified of her own powers. Oh, and you knock her out cold in fights, because if she's conscious, there is no fight. One of the reasons I hate S7 and think it is the worst-written of all.

I think you can tell in S8 that the storytellers still have to struggle to keep Willow from just snapping her fingers and making the problem go away. Either she or Buffy keeps getting sucked through portals, for example. With Dracula, she was (almost) all-powerful, but not all-knowing, which is slightly OOC -- Willow always knew more than she could actually do, and suddenly Dracula is teaching her containment spells. That's not my Willow!

However, Willow the person is a great, complex, fun character. Since she's been using magic like mad until now with little ill effect, I'm wondering if S8 is leading up to something that will permanently cripple her spell-casting ability, so the writers have a more balanced character to work with. Something that will push her back to the level of S4 or S5, for example. Make her human again.

Clearly, Super-Willow, light or dark, has become too difficult to work with. Something has to give.
Though I've got a lot of problems with S7-- a lot-- Willow's magic isn't one of them. There seemed to be appropriate boundaries: in (I forget the name, the one where Anya turns human again), we see her actually turn evil for a moment because she lets loose with magic without controlling herself. Later there's the First messing with her magic, but, I think that episode with Anya is enough to show her boundaries.

It's the same problem most superheros have: with great power, comes great responsibility. As long as they stick with that, I don't see any problem with her character. The fact that we're seeing a Future Dark Willow tells me that they are.
Tara is like Moses or President Roslin. Essential to the journey, but died just before final destination.

What destination? Why, the promised land of no one can tell Joss not to show two girls having sex!

I'm going to hell. Lucky for me, there is no hell.

[ edited by GrrrlRomeo on 2008-09-08 11:03 ]
I liked this issue. It rates high in Buffy angst though, and I'm a sucker for that. This arc's getting fairly complicated. I loved Dawn's "legend blender" line and the tree-dudes being obviously unsettled by the idea that something scarier is on its way.

Buffy's growing a lot as a leader, I notice. There was a time she would've been the one taking the obvious bait like that. Melaka's a bit like a younger echo of Buffy.

So Willow did mean the second "frak" literally. And she's using sex magic now. That's interesting. I do wonder if this is all a set-up to get her to go to the bad place to a degree she can't return from.

I'm not missing Giles, myself. Not that I don't wish he was there, but it doesn't feel like an absence any more to me. I don't think the Scoobies need a parental figure so much anymore. It feels more like Xander is grounding Buffy nowadays.
1. Buffy must return to her home time.
2. She must discover what went wrong with the slayer line.
3. She must face FDW.
4. I'm assuming there will also be a showdown with Harth. Could be wrong.
5. Dawn and Xander have to do...something. Get out of the woods? Find Willow? Where are they trying to go now that the castle is blown up?
6. We must learn why FDW is all...Future Dark Willow-y. This could possibly be combined with number 2.

1. Yes.
2. Yes, but probably not in this arc.
3. I think this is all leading up to Willow facing Future Willow, not Buffy so much. Buffy's facing the future and the uncertainty of what she's contributed to it. But I think Willow's facing Willow. Facing, not fighting in a lighting-throwing magic-battle sense. Because she's going to look. She needs to know things-- she can't not look, no matter the warning.
4. Yeah that seems likely. I kind of think he's going to be almost an afterthought for our main characters. Obviously not for for Melaka though.
5. They clearly need more strange encounters, danger, and awkward flirting. After that Xander needs to meet up with his squad and figure out what all has happened and who's been lost.
6. Possibly because she drew on the bad stuff to bring Buffy back from the future. Or possibly something happens to prevent Willow from becoming the future version we've seen.

Also, side thought: supposedly Future Willow (not sure how Dark she is, really) has little power. Yet whoever opened that portal has a whole lot of power. So Future Willow A) drained herself to open it, B) lied about having little power, or C) wasn't the person who brought Buffy to the future.
I'm not seeing any Xander/Dawn chemistry (thankfully, 'cause I really don't want the story to go there. We already sort of had Cordy/Connor, but at least that made sense when it was revealed that Cordy wasn't Cordy and I was fine with that Angel Season 4 development once we got a reason for why Cordy would do that--because she wouldn't). Just the awkwardness that comes from Xander's little sister figure spouting dialogue that makes him uncomfortable in a jokey older sibling way.

KingOfCretins said:
"It'll be motivation for Buffy when she sees the Slayer line truly end right in front of her. "

Your theory about the power being split between Harth & Melaka being the reason the power/title can't be passed on is intersting, hadn't thought of it. What if both of them die though ? I think there may still be Potentials in the world. Maybe not 2000 like in Buffy's time (another poster said that Buffy made millions of 'em--nope, it says right in the Season 8 title page that the slayer population went from 2 to 2000), or maybe there are way more if it's a ratio thing in regards to the population growth. We don't know though, because since one hadn't been called in hundreds of years until Fray, it's up in the air whether a set number of Potentials suddenly came into status when Melaka came along, or if the numbers slowly increase over time once the ball got rolling again.

What if Harth dies and the dreams are passed on to then next Potential in line, but that half-Slayer needs to wait for Melaka to die before she gets the strength ? Another possibility. One assumes that would right things too, no more split, unless twins happen again. We don't know whether the Slayer power has ever been split between twins before (Harth being male should have exempted him, but for some reason didn't) and we don't know whether whatever governs the power simply doesn't normally choose twin girls as Potentials or whether it's happened every now and then throughout history (twins aren't that rare, so chances are good...)

archon said:
"Maybe he'll flip out and make it so Harth future-shanshus or something and all the bad vampires go away and everyone lives happily ever after."

I'm hoping for no more shanshu-ing (they should just erase that as a possibility from the Buffyverse, a one-time only thing maybe). Brings up the question of what a human with a vampire's mind or a human with no soul be like. 'Cause if Harth got shanshu'd, we can't assume that human-Harth's soul would automatically pop into his body. An Orb of Thessulah Spell of Restoration would need to be performed too to get him back good. I dunno if the amoral vamp mind/presence or whatever could survive in a human.

quantumac said:
"Willow should feel ashamed. If there's anything I've learned in my almost-half-a-century, it's you don't cheat on your lady. Ever."

Not so clear-cut comparing a real life, supernatural-threat/extreme-situation-free existence to Willow's dilemma though. She's doing it to get vital info and possibly save the lives of many people, not just Buffy (and Buffy's alone would still justify a little meaningless sex, IMO). From this most recent issue it looks like she told Kennedy something (at the very least that she would need to achieve orgasm with her--a point that many who said Willow should've just got herself off may not have considered, that it had to be two-person sex and combo-magic to make reaching Vasuki work). Whether she's shared the exact nature of her relationship/dealings with Kennedy is still a mystery. Kennedy doesn't seem like the type to drop Willow like a rock over one or two discretions and the thing with the goddess is weird and still mysterious to begin with so it's still early to puzzle out the ethics/morality of the situation.

So if Kennedy knows the situation fully and is okay with Willow doing it or at least tolerates it for the sake of others, cool. If Willow's been less than honest with her, things get murkier...but maybe the one time cheating in the Buffyverse is somewhat justifiable, if it saves a ton of people ? Either way, she still should've told Kennedy, but then that's where the flawed human bit comes in.

Re: sex and squeamishnes
If Buffy and Angel and Firefly had been on HBO (or Showtime and the like), I doubt Joss would have been the least bit shy about portraying frank sexuality. I'm used to this sorta thing in other shows, and from reading many comics over the years it isn't a strange thing to see a regular human interacting intimately with a non- or enhanced-human. So snake-lady sex is no biggie. And I'm happy to see the Buffyverse less censored, regardless of whether it feels a little exploitative (I don't see that). The strong content is still there, especially in the writing, regardless of what they reveal in the drawings. If the slight raceyness (and Buffy Season 8 is still very tame compared to a lot of comics out there) gains or sustains more readers than it turns away, I say a win for us. I'm not saying we should have girl-on-girl every issue, but when it happens it's just really not that big a deal, for me.
Wait, but Harth did die. Being vamped should've been enough to pass the chosen status along, so if they haven't been, it must be waiting for Melaka. Assuming Slayers will still be called after them. Is it possible it has been passed along, but Harth just doesn't realize it? It's not like you lose the Slayer powers after another one is called. What if they are now split permanently?
This thread is buried by now but I wanted to clear up some things:
1. I think Kennedy knows what's up. Willow gave her that whole talk about "love you no backsies" or whatever. Kennedy knows, just doesn't care (right now)

2. I do not dislike Kennedy because of Tara. I dislike Kennedy because in S7 she was annoying as all get out.

3. Am I bias towards Kennedy because I loved Tara so much? Possibly, but it still doesn't change the fact that Kennedy is (again) annoying as all get out.

4. Peace Love and Unity in my Whedonverse please!!
Wait, but Harth did die. Being vamped should've been enough to pass the chosen status along, so if they haven't been, it must be waiting for Melaka. Assuming Slayers will still be called after them. Is it possible it has been passed along, but Harth just doesn't realize it? It's not like you lose the Slayer powers after another one is called. What if they are now split permanently?

What happens when a Slayer is vamped? Has that happened in any of the stories?
What happens when a Slayer is vamped? Has that happened in any of the stories?

That's actually what I originally thought was going to happen in S7. Once Buffy and Giles were told that it was Buffy's return that prompted the First's new efforts, I thought they were going to realize Buffy had to die again to defeat the First -- but they'd cheat it by making her undead instead of dead.

(I think mainly I was fascinated by how this move would make the title of the show mean not "the slayer of vampires" but "vampire who is also the slayer".)
Did you pick up on that "Slayer of slayers" in the last issue? Could mean "best of, originator" as the context kind of suggests. Or it could have a literal meaning.
Kris said:

I'm not seeing any Xander/Dawn chemistry (thankfully, 'cause I really don't want the story to go there. We already sort of had Cordy/Connor, but at least that made sense when it was revealed that Cordy wasn't Cordy and I was fine with that Angel Season 4 development once we got a reason for why Cordy would do that--because she wouldn't). Just the awkwardness that comes from Xander's little sister figure spouting dialogue that makes him uncomfortable in a jokey older sibling way.

Oh, thank Goddess! At least I'm not the only one...

Just in case anyone was wondering - this is actually my first comment.

Sorry about the lack of font change. I had to make this post quick.
I second Kris' feeling that the series is so much better for getting the FCC off of their backs. Makes you wonder what the first three or four seasons would have been like if they hadn't been looking over their shoulder all the time.
I wonder how much of it was FCC and how much of it was the networks' fear of pissing off advertisers, viewers, and special interest groups. They had the first lesbian sex scene on network tv, remember. They were pushing against what was considered acceptable, but there were constraints all around I think. My impression of the FCC is that it's more reactionary based on viewer feedback than consistent in what it enforces, anyway.
I'm with Sunfire on the FCC thing. I think it was more of a network decision regarding sponsers, because the WB was clearly squeamish about its audience and homosexual sex (although it got pretty provocative with straight sex in certain Smallvilles), but UPN being a fledgling network was willing to allow it in order to ATTAIN ratings.

Kennedy sucks because she's annoying, not because she replaced Tara. I mean, Oz is in my top five characters, and Tara replaced him and changed the sexuality of my Willow, and I loved her because she made Willow happy and confident. Where is Oz, anyway? I wanna know what's up with him. And I'm still of the opinion that Willow is bi. She loved Xander and Oz before Tara and the Annoying One.

I think odds are the Slayer dreams are waiting for Melaka, although the dreams and memories aren't like strength, if they were passed on that doesn't necessarily mean Harth would forget them. When Buff made an army of Slayers, they didn't mention her losing her memories of her dreams of the Master. But there may be someone out there in the future wandering around with Slayer memories like Harth's, and nothing to do with them.

Here's what I wanna know -- is Earth the only planet with human or demon life on it in Fray's world. I still say Fray is between Buffy and Firefly on a unified Whedon timeline, before Fray's Earth is blowed up good. Could there be need for Slayer's on other colonies? Could that be what the Alliance is up to after all, years later?

WEEEEE I'm crazy. I think if it hadn't been for Serenity and the cancellation of Firefly, the Reavers would have turned out to be vampires in Firefly S2 or even 3. Think about that.
Kennedy sucks because she's annoying, not because she replaced Tara.

You know, methinks you folks doth protest too much. No one said any of the people posting here did hate Kennedy simply because of that, unless I missed it somewhere. But in fact, there are literally hundreds of posts all over the internet expressing just exactly that hatred in just so many words, so - considering that pretty much any conversation in which Tara figures eventually comes around to how bad "Kennedy sucks" - I fail to see how anyone could be blamed if the thought did cross their minds.
My thoughts on the conversation, part one: I've always said that Kennedy just never got enough time. A lot of people hated Oz because they were doing the Willow/Xander ship -- until Joss wrote an episode to make the audience fall in love with Oz. Much the same thing happened when Tara was introduced. I've read comments written back in Season 4 that said, "Willow going gay? Oh please no, and if she must, at least have her do it with someone cute." Now, of course, pretty much everyone loves Tara. But poor Kennedy came in too late in an already overstuffed season, and never got the episode written to make us love her. Personally I never minded her much, and I happen to think that the look on her face after this issue's sex scene was worth the price of admission.

My thoughts on the conversation, part two: why is it that all the Season 8 threads turn into Willow/Tara/Kennedy debates?

My thoughts on the actual issue: I'm not convinced FutureWillow is dark (at least not completely). Yay for Xander and Dawn being completely unfazed by the fire ents; I love how flustered the ents got when our heroes failed to follow the script. And Buffy has definitely been making some tough choices here and maybe making mistakes, but hasn't she always done exactly that?

I mean, let's think about this: in this issue Willow may or may not have cheated on Kennedy -- well, she's cheated before. In this issue Buffy rightly or wrongly didn't stop to help people for the greater good -- she's killed people/let people die for the greater good before. Our heroines make mistakes, a lot -- but then they learn. You really think Joss isn't going to have them end up learning from these experiences as well.

I'd expostulate my theory on how Willow represents Joss's hopes and fears for his female audience, but this post is already pretty long.
I mean, let's think about this: in this issue Willow may or may not have cheated on Kennedy -- well, she's cheated before.

Unfortunately, she's also had a tendency before to justify her actions as "for the greater good". This time, she might be right. Or she might be being played, and end up making things worse.
My main concern was to soothe the ruffled feathers of folks here who seem to think that their favorite characters are being ruined. Yeah, if the story stopped here, you could make that claim, but Joss isn't done yet. Give him a little time -- and a little credit!

EDIT: good grief, how on Earth could I misspell "Joss"? There's not a lot to get wrong!

[ edited by ManEnoughToAdmitIt on 2008-09-09 20:46 ]
My main concern was to soothe the ruffled feathers of folks here who seem to think that their favorite characters are being ruined. Yeah, if the story stopped here, you could make that claim, but Joss isn't done yet. Give him a little time -- and a little credit!

I do, actually - and personally, I don't in any way feel that any of the characters were ruined (which mostly just translates to "It ain't the way I wanted the story written...") With Willow, in particular, her personality flaws are what makes her a complex, interesting character as opposed to a one-dimensional run-of-the-mill TV nerd (power boost aside.) Add to that the fact that she really does mean well, most of the time, even when her boundaries could use some tightening, and you have a great character - my favorite on the show and one of my top ten all-time favorite fictional characters. There's been very little about her story that I'd change, given the chance.
Kris pretty much said what I was thinking, but too tired to articulate on the sex issue.

The FCC usually doesn't do anything until someone complains. And a large chunk, maybe a majority of complaints come from the AFA monitoring TV for anything un-Christian and e-blasting their mailinglist to complain to the FCC and whatever network that showed the bad thing and their sponsors....and anyone else that will listen.

I think this thing with Willow and sex/magic might be connected back to season 7 when she was afraid of having sex with Kennedy because it might cause her to lose control (over her magic).

Her first contact with snakelady could've been unintentional. And maybe something to do with Kennedy's magical death and their temporary separation.

I'm a little confused though 'cause it looked like Willow was able to contact her via meditating in #15. Uhmm...unless meditating is a metaphore for wanking off.

Oh wait! Maybe the end of #15 Willow was doing the spell to the nether realm from "Who Are You", but was doing it alone. Maybe that's where snakelady is. And while Willow and Tara did the sexy spell together, Willow just literally had sex with Kennedy...because Kennedy's not a witch. I know...I'm reaching right?

In any case, seems to me that Willow told Kennedy.

I don't hate Kennedy as a character. She's pushy, but I like lots of pushy characters (Faith, Spike etc). And I like Dawn, who is often described as annoying.

Problem is, I've never had an explanation or insight as to why Willow is attracted to Kennedy other than she just happened to be the only lesbian around. And so far in the story, she has just been Willow's girlfriend. This makes me feel indifferent about what happens to her. Which is bad because it kills the impact.

Whether you like or dislike a character, you care what happens to them. If you love or hate a character, you care even more. But indifference just leads to not caring. Not caring if she lives or dies, or if Willow breaks up with her or cheats on her. So, actually people who hate Kennedy have more investment than I do.

hmm...I just now wondered if Kennedy's suckage is the result of playing it safe. Intentionally not making it a very emotional relationship to get all invested in thereby avoiding any intense reactions. That's kinda sad if that's the case. Personally I would welcome a character that I really believe Willow's in love with. Or one that really pisses me off for that matter. I don't like not caring.

[ edited by GrrrlRomeo on 2008-09-10 02:15 ]
Problem is, I've never had an explanation or insight as to why Willow is attracted to Kennedy other than she just happened to be the only lesbian around.

Well, she obviously thinks the world of Willow, she backs Willow 100% (even when she really shouldn't,) Willow nearly killed her twice and she's still there for her, she's cute, and she thinks Willow's hot. From the standpoint of a self-professed "loser" who doesn't get why anyone would be interested in her, what's not to like?
hmm...I just now wondered if Kennedy's suckage is the result of playing it safe. Intentionally not making it a very emotional relationship to get all invested in thereby avoiding any intense reactions.

I doubt it. Personally, I agree with ManEnoughToAdmitIt: there just wasn't enough time to really delve into Kennedy's character with everything else that was going on, so we really didn't get to see her in depth like we did Oz and Tara (and it was a while before we really got much insight into Tara, too; for some time, the most we - like Xander - knew about her was that she liked Willow.)
Rowan: I get why Kennedy likes Willow. Because...who wouldn't? It's just that these things are a two way street. Chemistry has to go both ways. People typically aren't just attracted to someone because they're attracted to them.

Like there are people who say that they think Willow is attracted to the person not the gender. And I agree with that to a degree. Regardless of sexual orientation, everyone's attracted to some non-gender specific qualities. Otherwise all lesbians would be attracted to all women, and all straight women would be attracted to all men, all straight men to all women...bisexuals would be attracted to everyone etc. But that's not the case.

Xander, Oz and Tara make sense to me because they all have some qualities in common--kindness, not pushy, I don't think humble is the right word, but just not arrogant. I'm not saying Kennedy isn't kind, she's just curt.

I was rooting for Oz before he knew Willow's name, and Tara from Hush. And I may just be projecting because Xander, Oz and Tara are all my type personality wise for the reasons above. Kennedy just has me at "huh?" because I can't project nor have I seen reason from Willow's side. (Though not canon, I think Chris Golden's Dark Congress makes a pretty good case about Kennedy not being a reminder of Tara.)

I dunno...maybe I'm getting into the no-no shipping territory. Though I'm not really for or against, just wish I felt some umph one way or the other.
GrrrlRomeo: If meditating has anything to do with wanking off, I've been doing at least one of them wrong =8). Given the Snake Lady's joke ("Do come again"), I think the path through happy land is the only way to reach her, and Willow was up to something else at the end of #15. Just talking, no touching, like a video chat? Deep memory recall?

(As an aside, why after all these years is Willow still pictured as meditating with her feet tucked under her legs, no cushion, and hunched over? If she's been doing this a lot, she'll be doing it right by now. Somebody give her a zafu, tell her to sit with her spine straight, and if she can't do a lotus or half-lotus, have her put her legs flat on the floor Burmese style. Let's research the details, guys.)

I think one major difference between Tara and Kennedy is that Tara needed Willow on many levels and Kennedy doesn't. This makes perfect sense, because Kennedy is a Slayer, and strong, and independent, and beautiful, and comes from a picture-book family, while Tara had none of those things. It took me a while to get use to just how different their relationship is.

What is more interesting is if Willow needs Kennedy. I'm not sure, now that she doesn't seem to be afraid to use magic in big gobs anymore.

[ edited by scotws on 2008-09-10 09:37 ]
I get why Kennedy likes Willow. Because...who wouldn't? It's just that these things are a two way street. Chemistry has to go both ways. People typically aren't just attracted to someone because they're attracted to them.

Ah, but for Willow, that has always been a big part of it. Oz, Tara, and Kennedy all showed an interest in Willow before she showed any particular interest in them - Oz was right, when he suggested that Willow's coming on to him in his van was a "get-back" at Xander; Willow appeared to barely notice Tara in their Wicca group meeting; and was pretty curt, herself, with Kennedy up until Kennedy made it clear she was actually interested in Willow. So, I'd suggest that, for Willow, whether someone is interested in her does factor in considerably to whether or not she's attracted to them; Xander might be the sole exception, and even he treated her like a person instead of a non-entity.

As far as 'shipping goes, I don't do much of that - I just 'ship Willow herself. Whatever makes her happy is okay by me.
I don't think Willow told Kennedy. See Kennedy's face after Willow comes back? Totally a, "yay sex" face, not a, "yay helping my girlfriend find snakethingylady" face.
I'm fairly sure Kennedy doesn't know the specifics, but I'm also fairly sure that she did know the general purpose. She asked Willow if she could contact her source ("him? Her? It?") and when Willow said maybe, she then asked what they had to do.
Re to myself complaining about Willow meditating in a back-breaking posture in #15:

After posting, I realized that this the 21. Century and I could just email Georges Jeanty. He wrote back a very nice email and gave two reasons why Willow is sitting that way: First, it had to instantly recognizable what she is doing, and second, because of the layout, she had to be hunched over a little. Of course, he is perfectly right.

I apologize for my bad manners: I should have written to him first.
But on the bright side, props for actually doing it - and getting a reply, to boot.
I don't think Willow told Kennedy. See Kennedy's face after Willow comes back? Totally a, "yay sex" face, not a, "yay helping my girlfriend find snakethingylady" face.

To be fair, we have not ever seen a "yay helping my girlfriend find snakethingylady" face. More seriously, I'm not sure how much she told Kennedy.
I read that expression as a "My girlfriend is so cool, and, boy, did I get the job done or what?" kinda look...
Okay I finally got my copy today.

First off I feel like maybe why this arc doesn't seem satisfying is because we're losing the characters. Buffy has spent so much time in the General role that she's forgotten what it's like to be on the front lines, to be terrified, to be human. One of Joss's themes is that every single human life is important and not expendable. (Even though he does a lot of killing himself.) So hopefully Buffy will remember this and perhaps FDW will show her how she's been slipping.

Slight digression. Isn't that why Buffy is mad at Faith? Because she killed innocent folk? Buffy's not taking an active role in the killing, but letting people get killed is no better. I think Faith is much more in the right now and deserves some better treatment. Slight digression over.

And Willow. Sigh. Willow's always been my favorite character. She showed such strength even before she had magic. But it would seem that Willow is gone. Ever since Tara died she hasn't been the same. She hasn't found who she is and she lacks confidence. At the beginning of S8 I was excited to see how powerful she was and well-adjusted. But now? I guess I want to time-travel back to the high school years, when reality was suspended and things were simpler.

As for Dawn and Xander? There aren't words strong enough to describe how I feel about that. Though vomitorious seems like a possible candidate.

All I can say is let's tone down the sex, and go back to the characters. They were there first; it's only fair.

Lastly, best part: "Summers you drive like a spaz."
I'm not getting a Dawn/Xander vibe. They've always been close since Dawn debuted. I get a big brother vibe from Xander. I think it's being read into too much.
Well said Likewithpie

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