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"And on the day the words flimsy excuse were redefined, we stood in awe, and watched."
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September 02 2009

(SPOILER) For the discussion of Buffy #28. The third part of Jane Espenson's 'Retreat' arc may provoke a lot of debate.

I can't believe it!

J/k the comic shop isn't even open yet.
Someone give the scoop! I can't get to the comic shop till tonight!
So did Xander snog Dawn or what?
This is an exceptionally good issue, one of the best of the seasons, and probably an upgrade from "Storyteller", with which this issue shares a narrative structure.

This issue works on a very meta-textual level by using Andrew's camera to develop the story, and it makes it clear that every little tease about hook-ups was intentional, since this issue squeezed every last tease out of several pairings that it could.

Could it be Buffy and Faith? We see the two (former?) Slayers working the land together, and once again finding some more depth in their bond as Faith is the one more satisfied in this new life. Buffy finally admits something she probably couldn't have in Season 7 under all that stress -- she doesn't even *want* to be in charge. But no, it's not them...

Could it be Xander and Dawn? Andrew's camera catches the two of them taking a joint breath in the change of pace, and demonstrate just how close they've grown, as Dawn suggests that this may be where Xander can finally go after what he wants. And they're so obviously talking about Buffy they don't even half to talk about Buffy, but perhaps Dawn is also talking about her, with a little hope? But apparently it's not them...

Could it actually *be* Buffy and Xander? We see probably the most deliciously intimate moment they have ever shared, and both of them look so very on the verge of telling each other some serious things... but, like the moment between Buffy and Spike in "End of Days", it balks somehow, there's something more pressing, something that has to be taken care of first. And isn't it great to see these two openly talking about their concern for their best friend, and how to help her?

Could it be Willow and Oz? No, surely not, not with him married, her dating, and all else that could stand between... but no one else even came close to getting inside Willow's mind, to reminding her she's Willow ("come back to me", he once said), and this conversation more than any other seems to encourage her. He trusts her. He trusts her. That's something she hasn't fully known or felt from even her best friends for a long time.

Could it be Buffy and Willow, perhaps? It's Willow that Buffy thought to go speak to when she sounded like she might Say Something to Xander... could telling Willow her fears, about Fray's time, lead to something more? Not this night at least, but it's so nice to see the honesty between them, and Willow actually showing some optimism, optimism that rubs off on Buffy. Willow sees something in her friend, something that tells her that maybe Buffy's future is there as well, there with their mutual best friend...

But it's Joss, and there must be pain. Always must there be pain. Perhaps it was one near miss too many, perhaps Buffy and Xander were always having two different conversations. Perhaps it's because she's extraordinary and the windows really did need fixing. For whatever reason, it's too late -- when Buffy goes to resume whatever her side of that conversation was, she sees Xander and her sister in each other's arms, kissing tenderly.

I'm a little moved, a little (okay a lot) heartbroken, and once again completely amazed by just how "back" Buffy is with this comic. And, oh yeah, Twilight is going to come kill them all because Amy has been hanging out as a cat. And no, I don't think for a second, even a second, that she is the mole, not when Warren knew about the First screwing with Andrew. I wish she was, but she's not.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-09-02 17:55 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-09-02 17:56 ]
OMG, poor Buffy! I know I know, she can be whiny and has a superiority complex about her inferiority or something like that. But, poor Buffy. I'm not really upset or shocked about the Xander/Dawn hookup; my shock and pain goes to Buffy as usual. I just have a soft spot for the girl who takes on too much then gets pissed when it brings her down.
Can't wait to read this! Not really shocked about Xander/Dawn (I only hope one of them doesn't end up dead in future)
Looking forward to the issue.A lot of people called Xander/Dawn witnessed by Buffy.
Hey anyone see AOTS? Chris Gore's had a "BUffy stakes Edward" T-shirt.
I want!!! Where do you get it

[ edited by demon magnet on 2009-09-02 18:54 ]
So, Xander and Dawn... no surprises here. That's a cute new relationship. And I'm sure Buffy will manage.

But there has to be a lot more than just the shipping to the issue hasn't it? How do they get rid of their magic. Why can't they just will it back?

How about the mole, are there any more clues?
Simple but powerful storytelling maneuver, Ms. Jane!
Okay, I'm officially concerned. Dawn+Xander=Potential Happy Couple. In the Whedonverse, Happy Couple=Certain Death. I'm seeing shades of Tara, Fred and Wash here and I'm not liking it.
First rule of relationships in the Buffyverse: Don't die.

I've got my fingers crossed for you, Dander!
"Okay, I'm officially concerned. Dawn+Xander=Potential Happy Couple. In the Whedonverse, Happy Couple=Certain Death. I'm seeing shades of Tara, Fred and Wash here and I'm not liking it."

Yeah, but maybe it'll take them a while to die. Willow and Tara had some happy years in between. I don't think death is imminent.
It could be the one that breaks the duck.
I'm really glad that I hung on for this issue. It's not like I was going to stop reading, but I was getting seriously confused about the point of the current storyline. Why would the slayers need to give up magic, weakening them when the inevitable attack commences? Couldn't they just pull a mother of a cloaking spell?

In this issue, I was able to, if not completely understand the reasoning behind the un-magicking, at least see how it touches all the characters. I loved the exchanges between Xander/Buffy and Willow/Oz. Willow broke my heart with her "You would trust me?" line. And she was back in Will form with her response to Buffy's confession.

As for the snogging, I saw it coming for months. The Buffy/Xander scene made me step back and breathe a sigh of relief that they would finally be together and my suspicions were false. I've been rooting for them for a long time. Honestly, the Dawn/Xander thing is kind of icking me out. They have always been like brother and sister. At some points I would even say that Xander was a father figure for Dawn. Why would Xander go for Dawn when it seemed really clear that Buffy was finally able to see that she should be with Xander? So confused...
Simon, breaks the duck?
Nice write-up KingofCretins. Very nice.
This is the issue Georges was talking about (but not spoiling) at the T1 convention at Birmingham in May, for anybody who remembers.
Simon, breaks the duck?

English slang for something major happening for the first time, it comes from the game of cricket.
Great post, KingofCretins. You captured my own feelings about this issue and my experience reading it very well. It was sad, happy, moving, powerful, and provoking. And funny (I enjoyed the callback to "Storyteller").

I loved the little moving scene between Faith and Buffy. That was nice. I loved the sweetness in the exchange between Buffy and Xander. I totally saw Xander and Dawn coming (for ages), and it makes a perfect kind of sense, but I felt so sad for Buffy at the end of this book. Well done, Ms. Espenson.

Edited to add: As for the betrayer in the midst of the Slayers, I can't help but go back to the imagery shown in Anywhere But Here (Issue 10) of Buffy after the betrayal. We see a terribly injured Buffy lying on the ground, a cracked red egg-thing hovering in the air, and a weird, dark doorway. Or something. Clearly, we were being shown clues of what was to come. So far I can't figure out what it all means, though.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-09-02 21:32 ]
Sign me up with the squicky crowd. I'm sure I'll eventually come around, but he really IS more like her big brother. But he isn't. Still, ew.
Right, so who's Twilight - Buffy, Dawn or Xander? It now has to be one of three.
A really exceptional issue. I actually found myself a bit teary-eyed during Willow's moment of realization with Oz - and Buffy's confession to her. Also, I literally squealed during the scene between Buffy and Xander on the grass. SO BLOODY CLOSE.
I have my copy of issue 28 now.

The issue was very good minus Andrew's Storyteller repeat(following everyone around with a camera recording things and the whole storyteller Andrew bits throughout).I realize Storyteller was Jane's episode and so she probably couldn't resist basically doing a sequel to it but I didn't care for the episode Storyteller so that as a setup for this issue wouldn't be a draw to me.

But the actual content was great.Loved the Buffy/Faith heart to heart.Just loved especially when Faith puts her arm/pats Buffy on the shoulder. Also thought Buffy's The Count T-shirt was very cute.

The Willow/Oz talk was also stellar.I loved Oz's pep talk to Willow and Oz trusting Willow with watching his son.The look on Willow's face and the tear in her eye got me when she says,"You trust me?"As well as her interaction with Kelden.

But I'm calling it right now.I think Oz and Bay are dead meat and will be killed both by the time this arc is over.And Willow will end up caring for there son,Kelden.

Also loved Buffy/Willow's heart to heart and Buffy telling Willow about killing her future self.And Willow's reaction.With her not blaming Buffy and this making her more resolved on working harder on the no magic deal,something she was having problems with throughout the issue up until her talk with Oz and now this.Always great to see Buffy/Willow hugging.

Obviously the big thing is the Buffy/Xander talk,the Xander/Dawn talk and the Xander/Dawn kiss with Buffy walking in on it.

I think it could go either way as far as this being setup for future B/X or not.I did get B/X vibes myself from Buffy's side of things.Her thinking of Xander in a romantic way.A lot will depend on what happens next issue.

I will say this.Brad Meltzer said about his arc in issues 32-35.

Metzer says he'd be exploring Xander/Buffy and showing us something that was always there, just not obvious to us.

So I can see why Bander shippers might be excited now.But I can just as easly see this not playing out this way.Again,the next issue might tell more of the tale.

In a Buffy/Xander/Dawn triangle,I would want Dawn to win not because of the idea of B/X.I would be okay with playing around with B/X depending on how it's played but because of Dawn's inferiorty complex in regards to Buffy.The episode,"Him" really showing it.I don't like a triangle involving Buffy and Dawn though to begin with since I would hate the idea of a guy coming between the two sisters.I consider the Buffy/Dawn relationship to be precious.More precious then any romantic pairing.I consider Angel/Connor the same way.

But we'll see where this is going in due time.The next two issues are going to be intense.
Brynmars - I've been absent from the issue discussions for a while, can you explain (or just link to) why Twilight must be one of those 3?
Good issue. Not surprised by Xander/Dawn but very surprised by Andrew raising his voice to Giles, and Giles answering his question.

I wonder what it is Willow thinks she has to do. She seemed to mean something specific.
That would have been way kinkier if they'd hooked up while Dawn was still a horse.

That was a good issue. It had what the last issue was lacking, for me: a good long conversation between Willow and Oz. It felt wrong that they'd meet up and only get 1 panel to talk. In this issue they got 3 pages all to themselves. I was really happy about that.
Okay, I have an unabashed love for Andrew's drawings. I especially the love the one when he drew Jonathan really, really short, and the picture of the broken heart.
This is a very interesting issue. I however was most struck by Willow's black eye when she says to Oz "You were real and now you're fake, pretending you're a normal person."

This strikes me as the core message here-with Buffy's confession that she doesn't want to be leader anymore, the whole no magic event strikes me as the thing that Buffy has always struggled with--wanting to be normal, twinned with wanting to make Willow not be FDW.

I'm also getting a very edgy vibe about how Willow keeps getting told she can be normal--there are echoes about misconceptions about gay people--that they can "just change". This is not true here and I don't think it's going to stick. Also, I am really squicked by Oz's use of the term "poison" for magic, since Willow's redemption and power came from balancing the sides of herself--and now, it's turned into the indelible mark of wrong, not fitting in--and also the weird hatred of magic that underlies this whole enterprise--how much of this is some kind of elaborate self-hate?(I also did not like Willow's "No" followed by Oz's "yes."--I think there's a lot of stepping over boundaries of consent with this whole plan of Buffy's:/--which I still think for these reasons is dangerously selfish.

(Also, did anyone catch that all the voices of dissent were lesbian--Satsu, Willow and Kennedy? Andrew describes them as "malcontents. While we do not know the orientation of every single slayer, I think there's something going on with them being singled out and not wanting to play with the program.)

Likewise, I find it telling that when talking about Willow, Andrew is speaking in front of a broken heart--two sides, split apart. Is this symbolic of splitting off the magic from the human, that it's pain, that this is going to snap something irrevocably.)

I also thought Willow's "With what I am, with what I have to do." was very telling. I am getting the feeling that she is going to have her own walk soon and will not be able to go along with this.

I've also noticed with each light/happy event there is an element of something wrong--Buffy and Xander's talk with her hurt finger, Buffy and Faith doing hard labor and looking at a dark hole, Willow's bonding time with Kelden that comes after Oz is being rather pushy about her choices. This makes the "You'd trust me?" even harder and sweeter-because she hasn't said yes and has something else, but can get this moment.
I think Willow knows this isn't going to work or has her unspoken burden...and I also think this bears on the Buffy/Willow talk--I think it is sweet but I think to an extent Willow is telling her what she wants to hear rather than what we've seen, that Willow is unhappy--but is trying to comfort her friend.

As for Dawn and Xander happy moment-well, that's joy mixed with sadness and emptiness.Ow, poor Buffy.

So I think this issue is also about perception vs. reality, fake vs real (including the "Willow, I thought you were a spy"and
asking the question how much you can make someone change--anyone.
This is leading into some very hard stuff--and as of the last panel literally.

(I also loved Kennedy in this issue--her swearing appearances were a hoot:))

I am really curious to see where this is going.
JessicaMelusine, yes, there does seem to be an idea going here that you can forcibly change your natural orientation. Isn't what's happening to Satsu like a milder version of what was forced on her in Swell? This idea that you can give up your Slayer power contradicts what Buffy espoused in "Potential" that all potentials had powers inherent to them. That it was theirs. Forcing Slayers to give up their birthright does smack a bit of trying to forcibly change someone's sexual orientation - as if you can change it by saying they need to change it.
Willow has another reason to have a broken heart, right?
Great issue! Much better than last month.
Hmmm. Are they being forced to give up their magic, or are they choosing to give it up? Does that make a difference?

Over time, the show has changed metaphors. Magic used to mean lesbian love, then it become an power abuse thing. Even if the slayers and Willow give up magic, are we still judging them by the old criteria? Does slayerhood still mean empowerment? Or can they be empowered without being slayers? Without magic?

Also, are they really "giving up" magic? I think it is more akin to them not holding it in themselves: letting it flow through the earth, as several people have said. I am trying to figure out how that is different, but It's all very confusing.

I'm sure things will be a lot more clear in hindsight.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2009-09-03 02:54 ]
I'd like to know where Faith's tattoo went. Did it go away with her powers?
I liked the issue up until the (I guess inevitable given the hints about where they were going) Xander and Dawn scene. I can see the characters doing that, but that doesn't mean that I'm OK with it. My gut reaction is that it's perverse and that I wish it hadn't developed this way. In my opinion, it turns Xander into little more than a sexual deviant, which is the opposite of how I'd seen him prior to this. I'm not giving up on the comic, but they're going to have some work ahead of them for me to "buy" this as genuine.
Sexual deviant? How?
I'd disagree with the term "sexual deviant", but, I can definitely understand why someone would use it. He used to babysit her, after all.

I don't think it's wrong, but I do think it's a mistake and will probably be short lived. I have too hard a time imagining them in a long term relationship. Besides, we'd lose all of those great stories where Dawn dates the wrong guy. It's practically a facet of her character (come to think of it, it's a facet of Xander's too... maybe it really was meant to be!).
Whilst Iím certainly not suggesting that it would have fine and dandy for Xander to date Dawn in Real Me, it is important to remember that Dawn was always treat like she was far younger than she actually was. Remember, ĎBabysitter! Iím fourteen, Iím old enough to be a babysitter!Ē There's a lot of truth in that.

Xander would have been around 19-20 at the time of Real Me. That makes him only 5-6 years older than Dawn and I don't have a problem with that. Though that may have something to do with the fact that my parents are 5 years apart. Besides as Buffy once stated, both her boyfriends remembered the industrial revolution *g*

Dawn is a mature young woman now so it's not really fair for the writers to keep thinking of her as the 14yr old girl she was in season 5. That doesn't seem right some how.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2009-09-03 05:40 ]
It seems a little bit fickle of Xander, but I do think he would be happier (ultimately) with Dawn.... It was inevitable that Xander would end up with one of the Summers girls IMO.
What I wonder is why Andrew suspected the puppy but never realized it was the kitty?!?! I am glad to know that Amy has expanded her abilities beyond being a rat.
Good Issue. Full of good, juicy story so it was very satisfying. No problems with Dander here. A five year age gap is no big deal.
I do have one question though: At the end Andrew says "Well that's very sad. But at least things are out in the open. The only one left with a secret"

So, is Andrew's secret the fact that he suspected Willow of being an agent of Twilight or does he have another secret?
(I'm thinking maybe Twilight or Spike related??)
Maybe Andrew was going to come out of the closet? I haven't managed to get my hands on the issue yet but going by that line it is possible. Especially when everybody is being so honest with each other.
I actually don't see the point of this. Although for me, Xander has been always the darkest, two-sided of the Scoobies. Best of lucks to the Dander couple, but I don't think he really deserves Buffy. I don't even think he actually loves her as an adult.

[ edited by Small Blue Thing on 2009-09-03 11:01 ]
Intresting issue. Count me in the fine with Dander camp. They've always had a special relationship that's theirs alone. Season 7 comes to mind, in potential, Xander made Dawn understand that being regular Joe is just as important as the superpowerd teammate. But i hope that them being put together just to kill one isn't going to happen. It's sorta become a cliche that no original scoobie can have a happy ending, this seems like the perfect time to break it.

I didn't feel sad for Buffy simply because i don't believe that she truelly wants Xander that way. He was there for 8 years and she never made wanted to seriously date him. If they were to hook up now then i feel Xander would always question wether she truelly wants to be with him or simply because of the lack of potential partners, in praticular the 2 greatest loves of her life, Spike and Angel.

It seemed more like Buffy was ready to fully accept being "normal". Get rid of the slayer-powers, do normal stuff, have normal boyfriend. But i think Buffy's in the wrong, she's denying who and what she is.
Plus i don't really like the idea of two sisters in a love-triangle. But this is all speculation, first we need to know Buffy's mindset.
In fact, Vergil, that's The Point of Buffy's internal conflict. She never accepts herself, she always wants others' lives.
Willow has another reason to have a broken heart, right?

Not sure where you're going with that... ;)

I think sexual deviant is more than a bit strong and I'm not really bothered by it, there've been hints of it for a long time, especially Dawn being a bit crushy about Xander and him brushing it aside. I adored Storyteller and thought this was a decent issue, though the pacing of these arcs probably holds up better in a re-read all-in-one-sitting type situation.

I suspect there are deliberate parallels being drawn in the "choose to be 'normal'" aspects of this and I'm interested to see where it leads. I hope the metatext doesn't overwhelm the text :) because if we concentrate on that it can lead us to expect or interpret wrongly as a metatextual reaction vs. a, er, pardon the expression, straight reading of the text itself.

Very happy that Oz and Willow got more talky and the "poison" talk is understandable from Oz's pov and also recalls "Wrecked" to my mind. Lots of nice callbacks both textually and thematically from Jane, plus some fun and heartbreak. Well done.
Emmie Yes, that's what I think is going on, especially since it is under the guise of "what's best for them". I think this is where the crack is going to be...

Dana5140 "Willow has another reason to have a broken heart, right? "

I also think this goes back to last issue and all the way back to AWBH-that Willow has lost her chance at a family because she made Buffy come back from the dead and because of it lost Tara (and their little family with Dawn.) She's surviving,but. (Also, I thought Oz's statement that "there are donors, there's adoption" was really amazingly not getting it.) This also makes the "no family because of what I have to do" even sadder:(

(Also as far as oddness, did you notice that Willow was wearing her old Sunnydale style when she met Oz again and prior to that was noticed as dressing much more like Tara, esp during her triumphant return in TLWH? It's like she's a little teen again, much more powerless.)I also think that Buffy and the rest of the team have sometimes fallen into the Willow-as-magic-dispenser rather than Willow-as-woman with real feelings and issues along with the mistrust. Also, my relationship would be strained and sad with my best friend if she decided that part of me was toxic and needed to be worked away.)

Giles_314, I'd feel a lot differently about this if it was a decision that everyone made together, but it wasn't--it seemed like it happened on a dangerous whim (and well, an attack). I think in this situation, Buffy (who I do love) is making a unilateral decision to take away people's power--more accurately, ones that could help them, especially because they are not the only Slayers out there. I am seriously wondering if magic as metaphor is becoming even more complex--because especially with the Slayers, it's an intrinsic, physical part of them being slayers--and now that power is something to shove away by doing hard labor/busywork. For me, it does not seem to match up with the idea that one can be special without magic (which one certainly can), but rather this whole arc seems to be based on a demonization of magic--ie, that if they can get rid of that, everything will be fine. My feeling is it may have been what Oz needed and what Buffy wishes for,but it does not mean that it is right for everyone. While Buffy did plan for the activation spell, I also noticed that it is still preceeded with "Are you ready to be strong?" There is a question and some agency (granted, there are still all the newbie slayers who did not get asked, but at the act of creation she asked the team she had...and this came as an order. As paraphrasing Buffy since I don't have my comic here :"We're going to go see someone who makes a career out of not being magic and Willow is going to do one less spell and then no more ever."

That strikes me as a very different management style--and especially with T. on the way, this could be very, very bad. (to be meta, Espenson did write BSG, so we're in a sitch that is not afraid of very bad things:/) Thanks for your comment, it was interesting to think about.
Magic's always been a working metaphor for whatever needed one in the Buffyverse. It's never been just one thing. Even as they're all trying to live without it here, it's still different things for different people. But the unifying metaphor for it in Season 8 seems to be power. Which Buffy and Faith are understandably weary of, because for them it's been a very costly burden to carry. While the younger leaders among the Slayers feel quite differently.
I'm just buried at work- a new term for my own studies has started with two courses on top of my full time job, and I would love to have time to go into depth here, but have to remain brief. If, as I have suspected all along, the goal of this season is to strip the slayers of their power, I think the real message will end up being, but they did not need it anyway. They did not need special power to fight evil. We shall see.

If Joss is playing with sexual metaphor again, it will not be to actually go through with anything that messes with people's sexuality.

And whither Willow?

Given Xander's luck with women, it would be expected that Dawn would die. Not this time, because we all expect it.

Mor when I have time...
I forgot the Bank Holiday here in the UK meant that the new comics wouldn't be out till tomorrow *sighs*.
Love the issue, even though Dander itself left me kinda cold, the rest was pure brilliance. Jane's oneliners are especially gold in this one:

"Humans point to the danger, not the safe."

"Saying it's easy makes it harder."

And a nice update on "Storyteller" too.
JessicaMelusine:Everyone has a right to an opinion but I really, seriosuly think the idea that Willow lost Tara as a one-point-to-another-point punishment for bringing Buffy back needs to be abandoned. As miffed as I am with Joss over many things, I can't really think he'd use such a morally subliterate 80s-murder-mystery-film thematic device as that. And what are those abbreviatiosn you're using? I can't connect them to titles. But I do tend to agree; I find it harder to see Kennedy as a mother than I do Tara.

I do see Oz's point but, well it's a problem I have and I think anyone can get into it. It's always tricky when we take any character as the author's mouthpiece, and I don't think it's fair to say this is Joss's idea.

I do have to question this whole storyline and Buffy's idea (and everyone else's going along with it, particularly Giles and Faith) of disarming themselves as a way of making the bad guys go away. I hate to use tired examples but Gandhi pulled it off against the British but Neville Chamberlain couldn't against the Axis. I don't think Twilight and his mob are the types who feel "I'm only afraid of you because you have that big, bad thing in your pocket & without it we'll be fine." They just don't seem like the type.

I have a second, more essential problem with it. Empowering all the Chosen was risky, and I'm sure that there were many bad results; empowering dleinquents who use Slayer powers to commit crimes or abusers who sue them to domiante others, innocwent girls who don't know they're empowered and accidentally hurt or kill someone by accident or due to perfectly normal temper flare-ups, girls ostracised or punished because of the powers. But it was by its inherent nature a Postive Act. An analogy would be awarding someone an inheritance free and clear without regard for hwo responsible they are; it might be disastrous, but usually it won't, and it's correct on paper.
I don't know if this giving up applies to all the slayers empwoered by Willow's spell or just those who are there on the spot and consenting. If it's all, that could be a grave mistake. A girl's strenght dese4rting ehr while she's surrounded by vamps or carrying people froma burning building, double plus ungood. It's like taking property thru eminent domain. It's by nature a Negative Act ,and so requires great justification. Which I don't think Buffy has provided.

Please note, I've seen enough episodes to know Buffy isn't Joss's mouthpiece. But my misgivings are grave.
I don't see any way this could affect other Slayers worldwide--as I read it, channeling magics back into the earth is something each person has to do individually. So I'm pretty sure it's just the Tibet Slayers who are going powerless.

And if I'm reading it right, that also means there's more consent going on here than it looks like. Kennedy, Satsu, et. al. may not be happy about it, but they are doing the work and the meditating--following Buffy's lead despite their misgivings.

And on an unrelated note, there are some nice subtle things in the art this time . . . anyone else notice that Buffy changed clothes before going back to talk to Xander?
Ah, now that you mention it: A thing that took me a bit out of it was the way the Sex Pistols cover seemed photoshopped into Giles' sweater.
Scott Allie in the SlayAlive QandA confirmed that yeah, Buffy was into Xander. Didn't notice the change of clothes though.
I never really thought of Buffy and Xander as a couple. I just never really thought about it. But now that it has been presented and then taken away, I am surprised at how sad I am about it. I've been thinking, and I guess part of my subconscious just always thought it would happen in the future. A constant someday. And now that Buffy has acknowledged that there is something that could work there, only to have it ripped away like that, really upsets me. This is why I continue to read season 8.

On the magic note, I have changed my thinking. I think that Buffy and the group giving up magic is a mistake, simply because that's what Twilight wants: the banishment of magic. On a metatextual level, it's still iffy for me.
Well, when did that happen? All of a sudden it just happened at precisely the same time that Xander snogs Dawn. What a coinkidink.
I'd kinda say it's been happening for a while, but it was likely cemented during the scene between the two of them earlier in the issue. Andrew knew it, Willow knew it, and Dawn probably knew it.

Xander, I don't think knew however. I just do not get that impression at all from the conversation.
I always saw Buffy and Xander as a figurative brother and sister anyway. Even the dialogue in S4's "Restless" dream scenes sorta broach the subject.
I don't know, I've been seeing subtext between Buffy and Xander most of the season . . . going all the way back to Buffy's dream in the first arc. I think there's been interest on her part (at least subconsciously) ever since that dream, if not before. But she's been afraid to act on it because (as she said to Satsu) her relationships always end up hurting people--a fact that she associates, rightly or wrongly, with her Slayer powers. It's only when those powers are gone, at least for the moment, that she's willing to acknowledge the feelings.

All the same, I'm not convinced that she's really in love with him. I think it's more a case of her longing for normality and connection, and (at least this season) he's the person who embodies both.

I'm also wondering if there's a chance Oz could be in league with Twilight. Seems like Oz would be on board with Twilight's ostensible goal--and while he clearly still cares about the Scoobies (especially Willow), they aren't his first loyalty anymore.
A not unpopular opinion, but the realtionship has pretty much always been in the wings, pretty much THE unresolved ship of the show. It's been there since their first interaction, and at least once a season, it gets at the very least hinted at, sometimes very blatantly.

This season began with Xander as a possible love interest for Buffy from pretty much the second issue, and both he and Buffy and he and Dawn have the most scenes together this season. Was I certain that they would address the issue this season? Nope, as I said, there has been buildup before, and it has been dumped, often unceremoniously.

Will this move us towards an eventual Bander? Joss' formula says yes, but it will likely be a long and painful trip. Of course Joss' formula also makes it likely that Xander will now go evil, die, or all of the above. So who knows?

But the hints have been coming for Bander just as often this season as they have for Dander, so this seemed fairly organic on Buffy's part. Especially on rereading the issue.

As for the big-brother stuff? In restless I always took it as Xander's impression of how Buffy saw him at the time. It bothered him. I really did think that Restless had a lot of B/X moments, but that might just be me.

In either case, can't say enough how thrilled I am that they are finally addressing the ship. Bout damned time.
Ok, if it's "bander" or "dander" now, and definitely "bangel" before... why was it "spuffy" and not "bike"? Hmmm? Gotta keep the naming conventions consistent, or else the world is just one big chaotic mess, I say! ;-)

"Xawn" and "xuffy" seem at least as reasonable to me.
On a more serious note... No, it's not "sexually deviant" for a 25-26 year old guy to get involved with a 18-19 year old young woman. Dawn isn't a cute little teen anymore--she's managed to survive her own disastrous sexual relationships by this point. Yes, she had a crush on Xander before, and he was *right* to not take advantage of that then... but times and both people have changed, and they've "discovered" each other--for good or ill.

Granted that it may end badly, but age difference is no more a factor between Dawn and Xander than it was between Buffy and either Spike or Angel. And yes, while love triangles between siblings are kind of uncomfortable... they also actually do happen in real life.
I don't think the age difference is the thing (or it isn't for me anyway). 5-6 years isn't that much. It's more the fact he's known her since she was around 10 years old in a family-like way (granted, those were fake memories, but they're basically real for everyone, especially Dawn).

I don't have a moral problem with it, and it's not taking away from my enjoyment of the comic one bit. But still-- bad idea.

(I do have a real hard time buying that Buffy would have a thing for Xander, though. I just don't see that ever happening. I don't see Xander ever crushing on Buffy again either.

To put it in perspective, the last time Xander had a crush on Buffy, Willow still had a crush on Xander.)
I disagree. I think that Xander never completely lost his thing for Buffy. He accepted it as something that was never going to happen, and he went on to have relationships with both Cordy and Anya (whom he loved, by the way. I'm not saying that he didn't), but I don't think he ever completely lost those feelings. They just became overshadowed with feelings of friendship which can sometimes be just as strong, if not more so.

I don't mind Xander and Dawn so much really. I thought I would, but I think they've built it up well. But now that it's out in the open, we are really going to have to see some fleshing out of their relationship for me to buy it completely.
Oh, you know, I just don't have that willing suspension of disbelief; it just seems creaky writing to have Buffy realize her feelings just as she finds her sister snogging the fellow she thinks she has the feelings for.
Well, yes, but isn't that one of the givens of any writing? What a coincidence that the woman Romeo has fallen in love with is a Capulet and they can't be together! Isn't it unlikely that Peter Parker would happen to be RIGHT THERE when a superpower granting spider happens to land on him, just in time for him to start saving New York from all of those wacky supervillains? How strange it is that Captain Mal Reynolds, browncoat with a hatred for the alliance would suddenly find himself with a passenger that would ultimately help him fight back and also provide him with a multitude of interesting developments allowing him to make an important point about free will! I think coincidence is just something you have to accept in writing. Without it, stories would be really boring.
Dana, I think it's also arguable that it's not a case of Buffy suddenly recognizing her feelings--it's more that she's been afraid to act on them until now. That's my reading, anyway. In her dream way back at the beginning of the season, she kisses Xander and his head comes off. He then tells her (in what seems a reference to her Slayer powers) "You are the dark."

I've thought she had feelings for him ever since that issue, and that she wasn't acting on them partly because of Renee, but mostly because she's afraid her Slayerhood is too dangerous, too likely to hurt anyone she's with (especially a non-super-powered person--Satsu, in that sense at least, was the safe option). So it makes perfect sense to me that she'd act on those feelings at this precise moment, when even Willow is seriously considering normality as an option.

Xander/Dawn was also IMO quite well set up, and this is one of the first times since Dawn's disenchantment that things have been calm and quiet (not necessarily their first snog, but makes sense they'd have more time for snogging now . . . and thus more chances of being caught).

All of which is to say: I thought it was really good writing, myself. :-)

(edited to fix html)

[ edited by erendis on 2009-09-04 06:08 ]
I thought it was superb writing to actually get multiple ships in the season come out to be the potential Big Reveal. Through the eyes of the Storyteller we wander from ship to ship. Faith "suddenly" connecting to Buffy, Willow and Oz thinking about babies. The issue is constantly questioning that topic, since it is, after all, a voyeuristic-sensationalist Andrew being eager to have these moments on tape. From that perspective, everything starts to be shippy, so I got no problem with Bander suddenly popping up, because its popping up was one of the points the issue was trying to address.
jclemens; Symmetry is a great thing, and I'm a fanatic about it. Except for 'ship names :-).
Willow recommending Buffy and Xander and Buffy's receptiveness were endearing and equally heartbreaking. Bay is adorable in her Dichen-likeness.

phlebotinin, could the cracked egg by a reference to a line by the fool in King Lear? After he dissolves his power between his two daughters (a stupid political move), all the "yolk" of his being falls through and he's left in a quagmire. For Buffy, the stupid decision is the whole "retreating" approach and the heart-wrenching to follow. Just a thought. EDIT: Oh, and Andrew's "broken heart" symbol is a link from that issue to this one, and what it symbolises for magic and personhood etc.; and with the potential subtext, the orientation dialogue going on.

And a further comment would be while Xander is perfect for Buffy, it would be tragic in the long run. With Dawn (who is symbolically Buffy-with-the-potential-for-normality, literally "made" from Buffy) it feels like a way of fulfilling Xander's earliest storyline while not derailing the show with coupleyness. I will hold out that there can be genuinely no heartbreak to come for those two; the ick for the fans needs addressing through the voices of the characters, so a happy ending is needed otherwise it would be as if the show was "punishing" something as trivial as a 5 year age gap.

[ edited by Liam Mars on 2009-09-04 20:02 ]
Super issue. Jane E is just terrific, isn't she?. This issue felt as if the Buffyverse never stopped existing. What a treat!

Xander and Dawn have always had the bond of being the two extraordinary ordinary people in a magical universe. Though Dawn came from magic, it it her flawed, but emotionally open humanity which is her most striking characteristic, as it is Xander's. Without special gifts of strength, healing or enchantment they have this nobility about them which comes from doing their best as they are, and not pretending to be, or even trying to be, what they can't be. Considering how much more vulnerable to pain they are, and how many fewer resources they have in a dangerous world, they may be the two bravest characters of the lot.

They are pretty much made for each other, IMO. Plenty of people become partners with people they knew when one was a child, there's no ick factor at all,in my view, as long as that part of the relationship didn't start when one of them was a vulnerable child.
Pardon me if this has been said already, but it seems like Amy and Warren are cruising toward a break-up. I would love to see Amy switch sides. I still have sympathy for her because she had a hard childhood with her crazy mother and then spent all that time as a rat.

Also, I would think she would be worried about where Twilight is going, in regard to the end of magic. And Warren must understand that he would die without magic. I wonder if they all know that Twilight doesn't really intend to end magic.

I'm really suspicious of Oz trying to get them to give up magic since that seems to play into Twilight's hands. Plus, Oz's situation is different: He doesn't do good as a wolf, generally, while the Slayers try to do good as Slayers.

I hope that Twilight isn't Spike; that would mean regression for Spike once again, after Season 7.

Since the previous episode, I've been wondering why Twilight said he didn't think the Slayers were even in Mongolia, suggesting that that's where his crew was. Maybe the Slayers aren't really in Tibet, or maybe Twilight has a problem with geography.

The set-up with the puppy, in which the Scoobies thought he was the baby at first, and then Andrew saying he was suspicious of the puppy, made Andrew - and most readers, I suspect - less suspicious of the cat.

I liked when Andrew stumbles over "farther" and "further."

In a sense, Dawn has replaced Anya as the person who blurts out the truth in an awkward fashion, like Cordelia before her. It bugs me that Xander hooks up with women to whom he can feel superior.

I've never been a big fan of Xander, who has seemed the most shallow of the Scoobies. I've also never understood why people gave him a pass for attempting to rape Buffy, but then treated Spike differently. Yes, I know Xander was possessed with a hyena spirit, but his actions were laughed off. Isn't being possessed similar to not having a soul?

In the scene with the mines, Xander says they may be pointing to the safe, now that they are in Tibet. When Dawn encourages him to go for what he wants, we then see him with Buffy. In that scene, it seemed like Buffy was trying to tell him she loved him, but then it became clear she was talking about Willow.

After he said he would wait for her, it looks like he went for the "safe," Dawn, the person who he knew wanted him.
I think this is my favourite issue to date. It was superb.
73 comments in and no love for the "yak" joke yet?

On first read I wondered whether Buffy and Xander had done the deed in the page break (between "You tell me" and "I feel more now"), in a "deleted scene" so to speak.
While I loved Storyteller, I thought the throwback was a little iffy. Storyteller was about Andrew facing up to what he was and what he had done. Being funny with a camera had a deeper meaning then. Here it was simply a device to tell the story of the comic. I don't necessarily have a problem with that, it just felt a little weird here.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2009-09-05 21:18 ]
Loved the little things... The Alien and HellBoy busts (how did Andrew manage to save all of his things?! Can't imagine him travelling with all that paraphenilia... but then again, it is Andrew), Buffy's change of clothes before heading out to talk to Xander again, all the "malcontents" being lesbians, Dawn asking Xander what he wants, Faith liking the decision to let go of magic more so than Buffy...

I really hope Oz isn't the mole. Cause that would suck. And could possibly mean there'd be a death soon.

Also, go Dander! Dawn and Xander would be, IMO, much happier than Buffy and Xander could be.
Not big on Andrew or his camera, but I enjoyed the issue. Xander and Dawn don't bother me, it just seems....fine. It's not even shocking, and it's at least been building to it unlike a certain fling early last year. Not sure what the point of the relationship is though. I wish we could get an issue every two weeks, the months feel longer and longer.
Oz can't be the mole because he wasn't in the know during "NFFY"... or at least it doesn't seem like he was.
I'm loving all of the talking and character moments in this arc. It's just something there hasn't been a whole lot of time for before. Go, Jane!

Everything that I found most moving has already been touched upon, like the Buffy/Faith, Buffy/Xander, and Willow/Oz conversations. Seeing Buffy and Faith be this close after everything that's happened over the years really had my tear ducts working.

I'm honestly not sure how to feel about Dawn/Xander. On the one hand, it's cute, but on the other, it's just creepy. It feels weirdly incestuous.
There's quite a few things in this current arc that I'm struggling to understand in terms of logic, but this would be the most central one.

Ok, so in #26 Willow is using magic to hide the slayers new HQ, but doesn't cover up the magical signal coming from her magic and that of the slayers. Twilight uses this successfully in #26 to track them down and then unsuccessfully in #27. Buffy's response is to suppress the magic in the slayers and stop Willow using any more magic, in an attempt to hide.

Personally, I see a significant problem here. What is it that Willow is hiding with magic in #26? It's their physical presence in the world - not as magical beings, but simply as beings. This is very necessary as locating a normal person using magic must be one of the most simple spells. Willow's magic forces Twilight into locating them using a more complex technique - tracking the magic. By giving up magic Buffy neutralises this method, however with no magical defences, Twilight can simply locate them using (can you guess) magic! Preventing this is the reason that Willow is doing magic to hide them in the first place.

Amy suddenly discovering the slayers after Twilight's failed effort last issue does sort of make sense - Buffy's completely dropped her guard and made the slayers location obvious to anyone who can do a locator spell. Which, along with weakening her army before a fight, appears to be a truly idiotic idea. Not to mention that she's following the plan of Oz's group and look what happened to them - ripped apart by their enemies.

In counter-argument, I can offer a) We're being totally mislead as to what Buffy's plan really is (though that's tricky - given the conversations in this issue almost everyone else would have to be in the dark) or b) Twilight (or Amy) can't do a basic locator spell (hmm) and was in fact relying on the demons in Scotland to visually locate the slayers and Willow was simply hiding the HQ from them. However, in that case, Buffy had left them utterly open to being spotted by the demons in Tibet.

I should have posted this here before, but if anyone's still checking this thread, any thoughts on this? (Unless it's "you're taking this too seriously" ;).
You're taking this too seriously! Who reads Buffy comics?! That show has been off the air since 2003! But no, I think I just assumed the geographic distance meant that Twilight's options didn't include the kind of locator spells we've seen characters use in the past. I try not to think too hard about the magical rules in the Buffyverse because they're pretty inconsistent.

I think Buffy really is going along with Oz's plan. Oz & co have not been torn apart by their enemies-- attacked yes, some killed, but they've survived and more importantly, on their own terms. As human.

What has bothered me for awhile is that Buffy's total plan seems to be A) find safe place; B) bulk up defenses; C) survive attack; D) abandon the bulk and escape and start over. But I think that's the point of "Retreat"-- survival has been all they can manage. And barely that. And now yeah, supposedly everyone's lacking their superpowers. And that seems like a terribly stupid plan in a lot of ways. The next attack's certainly going to be interesting.

The best Buffy scenes are always when everything's gone to hell and she does something no one expects. Something only Buffy would do. My expectations are pretty high for the next two issues for that reason. A powerless Buffy attacked by Twilight has a very oh no Angelus just disarmed her in a swordfight and she's all alone feeling to it.
Is it just me or are discussions about the comics becoming less and less? I remember when there would be close to 200 posts about a single issue. Now.....lucky if it breaks 100 posts. Something big needs to happen to revitalize interest I think.
Cant get my copy until Saturday, but Xander/Dawn WRONG. Are we all so desperate for our characters to get some loving that were willing for them to do any or all of each other. Someone said thier relationship had been building for a while, no surprise etc. But i gotta say it was always building in the brother/sister way. There was no flurting and Xander was almost always responding to another of Dawns teen tantrums. The age gap isnt an issue the maturity level is. I thought better of Xander than having "happy thoughts" about Dawn. I dont think we want any of our scoobies in each others beds anymore, its not college, their not teenages anymore, they are adults and i think we're kinda fliping between the two stages. Sure its hard to find a woman when you one of what 4 guys out of 2000+ slayers. I'm just getting to the point where i'm scared i may regret reading season 8 cause all 'my' people are drifting away from the character they used to be and not just living happy with my last memory from the end of TV.
I feel unhappy now and i havent even read it yet. Again with the Dread! and Jane you better not kill of OZ!!

sorry that was an unhappy post.
Well, I enjoyed the issue. I like the amount of interaction and talking which has been too lacking recently. I'm sad about the Xander/Dawn because I was a definite B/X shipper from the start but now that seems unlikely to happen unless Dawn snuffs it and many years pass.

Like treenie I found Xander and Dawn's relationship to be developing along less romantic lines. They were getting close, but as friends predominantly. Its hard to read chemistry in the pages of a comic book but throughout the tv series and the comics I never got a romanc vibe off them. It seems more of a set up for Buffy's crushing disappointment after she finally realises she could be 'normal' enough to have a relationship with the guy she cares about most.

I think its stands to reason that Oz is a mole of sorts. I find it hard to believe he would actually put all these young women and his old friends in lethal danger but he does have a family to protect now and he's clearly on the "magic is bad" side of the fence right now. Who knows how Twilight orchestrated everything, but if Twilight does turn out to be a familiar face then Oz may have good reason to trust him.

I personally found it pretty distressing watching all the girls lose their powers. That would feel so awful, yeah might be good for Faith and Buffy, but Satusu and Kennedy and all the other girls who like to fight, that was just so sad. And what happens to the world they're supposed to be protecting, do they just give up on people because Slayers have become the enemy?

I'm worried that this no powers lark is going to stick though, simply because it would explain Buffy's discovery in the future that there was no mention of the army of Slayers in any of Fray's books, and if they didn't go out with a bang, they probably went out voluntarily.

Which leads on to, despite everything, they appear to be making Fray's future world (which also makes sense with the future world not ending when Buffy killed FDW). Which means that Willow's dark path is not so much averted as flying at her headlong. I didn't think it washed that Oz would just trust Willow to watch his kid and she would suddenly have this revelation that if she just gave up magic and tried to live a normal life then everything would be better. Oz might be able to walk away from the magic life but I don't believe Willow ever can. In the coming battle they will need Willow to fight and that means magic. Besides which, ever since Buffy killed FDW, I've been thinking there must be more to the spell to empower all the Slayers and it will have dire consequences for Willow.

GhostWatcher, I've also wondered about the decline in postings in these discussion topics. I usually get my copy the day it comes out it the UK and usually come on here the same or following day and even by then all the posts have trailed out.
I suspect Bay.
I don't know of what but I suspect her of something. Dawn and Xander came as a surprise to me and I'll have to watch that relationship for awhile before I see if it rings true for me. While I agree with toast that they seems to have been made for each other, I have also had major issues with some of his behaviour over the years- stuff for which he has never answered.
It is because it seems so profoundly stupid for the Slayers to give up their powers that I am really looking forward to the big showdown.
I love this issue. Jane E did it again.The dialogue was spot on and when I saw the Yak joke I laughed outloud. I could not believe she actually went there.
Lioness, I'm suspicious of Bay too--mostly because she has a really big fake smile in several panels. Could be I'm misreading though--it's hard to tell with a new character. (I don't really think she or Oz would *deliberately* harm Buffy & co.--but it does seem like one or both of them could be convinced Twilight was right, and Buffy etc. were misguided.)

I as several people have said, I loved the dialogue and personal interactions this issue. And I loved the yak moment too--the pun was great, and Buffy and Xander's expressions were just perfect. (One of those moments when you can see how much time Jeanty's spent learning the actor's expressions and mannerisms. Good stuff.)
Okay, I'm confused. I thought that whole point of giving up magic was that Twilight was using the Slayer groups magic to find them. If he's found them anyway, why should they still not be able to use their powers when fighting back?
The dialogue has implied that as the Slayers attempt to channel the magic elsewhere, they're losing their Slayer abilities. Buffy's bothered by a splinter. I think when Twilight attacks, they're all going to be physically weaker.

We may see echoes of what happened to the one Slayer in Tokyo. :(
As a B/X 'shipper since "Welcome to the Hellmouth" I am a little disappointed in the Dander. Like many others have said, I definitely say their relationship growing in a more brother/sister (or more accurately as two adults who know each other because one is close friends with the other's older sibling who have been through a lot and are now close friends on their own right). I don't find it creepy, just kind of disappointing. I'm sure it will be great/painful to see where it goes.

Also, the slayers giving up their powers can't end up good. Can't wait to see what happens (I second that I wish issues would come out bi-weekly though, with Joss's comic history, I guess we're lucky they come out every month).
Hate to suspect Giles again, but did anyone else get a feeling from his dialogue and expressions toward Andrew in this issue ?

Not necessarily that he's Twilight ('cause in case the can't-be-in-two-places-at-once theory is proven easily false with explanations of magic duplicity--or y'know, robots), but perhaps in league with Twilight or on his own, following his own agenda.

My wild theory of the week.

Read the dialogue again and watch Giles in this issue, someone tell me I'm not crazy.
Sunfire, you're right. On rereading it's clearer that they have lost their powers and it's not likely that they can just instantly regain them. Unless it's all part of a brilliant prearranged feint.

Has anyone else noticed that we're now in Astonishing X-men territory? Take the cure, give up your power, become normal, live a satisfying ordinary life. 'Course Buffy's been through this before. In "Helpless" she knew which choice she would make. Has she decided she would choose differently this time?

And I'm finally leaning toward Hank as Twilight. No particular reason, except that Twilight knows Buffy, and it's a major betrayal, and the usual suspects seem to be accounted for. Don't know what his motive might be. Or possibly Jonathon returned from the dead, and thinking the world would be better off without magic. The fact that Twilight seems tall - Jonathon would definitely go for that as his disguise.
I still think the Hank theory is improbable--he's been out of Buffy's life for so long, and barely featured in the show. Plus the "betrayal" isn't necessarily linked to Twilight's identity.

Actually, I'm wondering if the betrayal might not be what's happening right now--Buffy betraying the other Slayers, and herself, by trying to be normal. (After all, as Kendra told her so long ago, being the Slayer isn't a job: it's her identity.) And if some of the Slayers we know end up dead because of this decision . . . well, I think that would qualify as "the closest, the most unexpected" betrayal.

Also, I may be crazy, but when it comes to Twilight's identity, I'm still Team Harth. ;-)
I have no idea who Twilight is at this point, but "closest and most unexpected" has always seemed like Xander to me. He wouldn't betray Buffy to serve his own ends. But he would if he thought she was doing the wrong thing and betraying her was the only way to save people.
Maybe Twilight is buffys dad.
Hank is Buffy's father.

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