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March 23 2012

(SPOILER) Opinion piece on the current Buffy Season 9 controversy. Article sorta takes Joss to task a little for the perceived bailout on the issue at hand but Allie defends the man and makes it clear that this was the plan all along.

well that certainly explains the perkiness "hi honey I'm home"
I will nitpick the author and say, having been through college, I don't get the level of heat that Joss gets for the Satsu fling. People try things in their 20's. That happens.

I can't really come down on this as an issue yet because I feel like I need to see more plot resolution.


(also: we're not even a third of the way through the 'season,' right? i'm sure there are more surprises to come. in the meantime the abortion decision -- not the only important part of that process, of course, but certainly an important one -- was handled so very deftly, and i'm proud of joss, chambliss, and co for the work they did there. my wife and i were already losing faith in the S9 buffy comic, a bit, but we are reassured of its rightness.)
I think that it's very strange that the writer assumes that the abortion/pregnancy is no longer an issue. I kind of assumed that it was still an ongoing story that has just been confused by the fact that Buffy is...

a robot.

Sorry. I just had one of those moments when I realized how absurd the things I say are. I love this!
azzer, I think the reaction to that is a bit like season 8 overall. If Buffy was as well-drawn in season 8 as she is in 9, I don't think the reaction would be as strong. In fact, if I happened now, it would be plausable. With season 8, however, everything was zany and cartoon-y and Buffy doing that just took her further away from the character people watched for so many years in a different form.
I knew it!!! These last 7 seasons have just been an elaborate setup to complete the I Robot you Jane arc! Clearly the circa 1997 PC is the father.
I really disagree with this last sentence: "you can’t really say something without actually saying it."

Seems to me that not being literal is pretty much the goal for most of my favorite authors.
Rather than attack the author or his premise, why not address the issue? Yes, the season is not over. But if indeed the character we have seen talking is a robot, this pregnancy issue is not. An issue, that is, as Allie's comments seem to imply. I think the comparison with Satsu is apt. It made no difference to the story. It just was. And in a "show" that was always about consequences, there were none.

However. I still think the pregnancy is in play, but only because I also believe the real story here is the child Buffy will have.
Well, I for one believe they're going somewhere with it. It's way too early to say what this is yet. And I never saw the Satsu thing as a way to create buzz, it had meaning. The lesbian sex wasn't the point, it was to have two characters have deep profound moments, dealing with the one having unresponded feelings, the other one feeling lost and unable to be in a relationship. It was also a way for us to see Buffy from a new POV, from a slayer-turned-lover POV.
Dana, I interpret his comment as tacit confirmation that Buffy, bodily, is not pregnant and probably never was. That said, we have had some comments made over the course of two seasons here that walk pretty close to being straight up lies for the sake of misdirection, so assume nothing. But recall that people reacted suspiciously to the very particular and carefully chosen sounding nature of Joss' original interview about "the moment of decision". Between what we got going in and just got coming out, it feels like this is a closed book. She made her choice; that it wasn't one she could follow through on is immaterial. Compare to, for instance, the end of "Into the Woods"; she made her choice but she didn't get to execute it. Doesn't mean she didn't make it.
Wait, I'm confused (happens a lot). How has the pregnancy thing been revealed as a non-issue? Are people suggesting that the robot took a pregnancy test and got a false positive? How does that make sense? If not, then her real body -- her pregnant body -- is somewhere . . . presumably still pregnant. What am I missing? Why does the writer assume this is an "it-was-just-a-dream" scenario?

These are not rhetorical questions -- I would actually like someone to explain the theory that "she's not pregnant and never was," and how such a theory could be consistent with the facts we know so far.
so here's my 2 cents... i think the Fairy saw Buffy was pregnant in her dreamspace and used the dreamspace to move buffys mind to the buffy bot so she can protect and nurture buffy during her pregnancy. I also think Dawn is as good as dead. Unlock the key?? Willow kills dawn using the scythe and the world goes back to how it was before the spell was done to 'create' dawn.
My personal conspiracy theory: the whole robot thing was part of a complex plan to take her baby away.

Seriously, right now, I think the season will develop according to the following scenario: Buffy spends some time in a robot's body. When she gets her real body back she finds out that she's not pregnant. The issue of pregnancy won't be mentioned till the end of the season. In the last (or next-to-last) issue we'll find out that Buffy was actually pregnant and her baby (babies) was born when her conscience was in the robot's body. And - that she was destined to carry a messiah, a future savior of the world.

To put it simply, Connor 2.0.
I can't accept that Joss will do such an emotional issue (#6) and then just shrug it and say well that was the robot

[ edited by anca on 2012-03-24 12:18 ]
To be honest, Moscow Watcher, you're scenario sounds a lot more like River Song 2.0, because that is essentially what happened to Amy Pond in Doctor Who, although the intended end result was less 'save the world' and more 'kill the Doctor'.

I don't for a second believe that the baby plot is done with, although I do think that any possibility of the abortion going ahead is now gone. Buffy's body will go through with the pregnancy whether Buffy herself wanted to or not. Read into that what you will, I guess.

I do think that the baby is going to be important. That much is obvious. People like Buffy don't have babies that grow up to be accountants. Whether that importance is for good or evil remains to be seen. I still think that Twilight gave up a little too easily at the end of season 8. Just shrugged its lion-y shoulders and wandered off into the sunset without so much as a 'I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those crazy kids'. Maybe it had a secondary plan for being born into Buffy's universe, through Buffy herself. That would certainly give new meaning to the Buffy/Angel space sex. Even if that isn't specifically the case though, I still think Twilight's story isn't over yet, and neither is that of the baby.
Whether Buffy is not pregnant on account of robot, or was pregnant and had gotten the abortion she intended, in a very real sense there never was a "story of the baby", as it were, since neither of those stories are about a baby as such. It's only the story of a baby if you presuppose the possibility of their being one, isn't it? But that appears at the moment to have never been the case.

If Buffy is actually, bodily pregnant somewhere, there's really only two outcomes -- 1) she gets the abortion originally intended (which IMO would transform what was once straightforward and topical, even if I didn't agree, into an almost cartoonish quest, a ticking clock race to get an abortion, "Adventures in Babysitting" except completely not -- all to tell us what we already know, that she wanted one and can have it. Or, 2) she either decides to stay pregnant or she has no alternative, regardless, she has a baby.

#1 is possible, I suppose, but is something I find more befitting a black comedy and not the seriousness with which Joss and Scott Allie and the original month's worth of discussion regarded the subject matter of Buffy's decision. #2 is something I think that would make more people mad than the original subject and how it was handled on the first pass ever could have. Which is to say, I think it would go over worse if Buffy either, having had all this kidnapped robot time to think about it, decided to have the baby or it was simply too late, than if he had just written her to play the "Knocked Up"/"Juno" playbook from the start. I don't think he has the viciousness to write for Buffy a baby that both she might and many of her fans will resent if not despise.

So what I figure is most likely is that the pointed, even stilted expository announcement "I guess this means I'm not pregnant" was put there intentionally as the end of that issue -- later to be followed by some jazz to explain why WTFuffy appeared pregnant. But I really don't think the point of this robot story is or ever was Buffy's pregnancy (well, other than for this contrivance), I think the two are coincidental plot-wise.
Heh, heh! You kids have so much to learn. Don't disapare yet, we haven't been able to figure it out either. Drat that Joss!
I don't know, KoC. I just can't imagine that the symbolism of Buffy having the option of an abortion taken out of her hands, her freedom of choice quite literally stolen from her along with her body, isn't at least a part of the reason behind the robot plot. Some group or individual deciding that Buffy should not be allowed to choose to terminate the pregancy and going so far as to remove her mind from her body to guarantee that it doesn't happen seems kinda metaphor-like to me.
As I've said previously, in the final analysis, I do qualify as pro-choice, but I have deep personal misgivings about abortion. I think in many cases there's a disrespect for life there that I'm simply not comfortable with. The notion that "pro-choice" is inherently "pro-woman" I just don't think holds up in light of the selective-sex abortions that are alarmingly prevalent in some countries. On a large scale, people are not being allowed to live simply because they are female. And where does this go from here? The more we learn about DNA, the more reasons we can find to discard a life before it's born simply because it doesn't meet with the parent's criteria for what they want their child to be.

But let's stay in the present. I also have strong objections to abortion being used as casual contra-post-conception - the notion that it "liberates" people to engage in irresponsible and dangerous sexual activity, because the consequences can just be made to "go away" later. I fully acknowledge that "things happen" even when responsible steps are taken, but it's the other thing where life is casually created and snuffed out because... oops, silly horny me. I screwed up again. I'm so irresponsible!

And that brings us back to Buffy. We're mid-story. I have no idea where this is going and so I'm withholding judgement. But the author here has illustrated my worst fears. The story as we know it (subject to change)... Buffy gets drunk and blacks out at a party where there were people she didn't know and no one she did know watching her back. She (apparently) has sex and (apparently) gets pregnant. She decides to get an abortion and... presto! "The problem" just goes away - clean, tidy and consequence free (aside from the fact she's a robot). If there's not more to this and the season simply moves on, I think that's a horrible, horrible message. We'll see.
I'll go on record here and say that there is absolutely no way that the story as presented by BringItOn5x5 above is actually what really happened. It may be an accurate representation of what we have been offered so far, but I'm absolutely certain that we've only been given the proverbial tip of the iceberg as far as the truth regarding Buffy's current situation is concerned. At least I hope so, because otherwise the standard of Buffyverse storytelling has fallen a very long way, and I refuse to believe that.
What puzzles me is that Buffy says assumes she's not pregnant. I have no idea why she says this. Does she merely mean her robot body is not pregnant? Seems unlikely she'd say it that way, and seems too obvious to need saying. But it also seems unlikely that she means that her actual self, wherever it maybe, is not pregnant, because how would she know?
I haven't been able to get most of these issues so I can't comment on specifics. I don't expect to enjoy whatever occurs, anyway. But I will say I am confused. And I do tend to side with the "you can't tell a story unless you tell it" camp.

Five Horizons: "People like Buffy don't have babies that grow up to be accountants. " I find that a very problematic thing to say. A lot of children have parents living with some bad choices and they turn out fine.
Interestingly, at least for me (!), is that people (some) agree that the baby will be born, which is what I have felt all along. The abortion thing was, like the lost arm, a bit of a red herring. Or more than a bit.
DaddyCatALSO, that would assume that I considered a life as an accountant to be 'fine'. It would be a living hell for me, to be honest.

What I meant to say wasn't that the child would be likely to grow up to have some sort of psychological problem, but rather that any child of Buffy would be unlikely to have a boring destiny and grow up to have a regular, mundane sort of life. Better to be risking your life slaying demons than sat behind a desk in a suit, taking care of other people's money, I'd say! ;)
I don't remember offhand whether Buffy took a pregnancy test or not. If she didn't, then what Scott Allie says about the Robo-plot being the first idea makes sense. If she did, it can still be explained. Buffy gets drunk at a party, gets kidnapped/runs away and a Buffybot is left behind. It wakes up with no memory of the night before, because it was just turned on. Then, a Buffybot who thinks she's real Buffy doesn't have a period for an extended time -- because perhaps it's one thing the robot wasn't programmed to fake -- and starts to think she's pregnant. She hasn't actually been to a doctor, and if she did take a test her robot pee (a necessity for the bot to think she's real would be basic bodily functions) confuses a test. The Buffybot, being Buffy in every other sense except actuality, makes the decision Buffy would make: to get an abortion. Then, the reveal.

But I also think the kidnapping of Buffy to force whatever pregnancy to term is a distinct possibility. This issue was treated with a lack of seriousness in Doctor Who with River Song -- most of the horror implicit in it was ignored or skipped over. I wouldn't put it past Joss to deal with the political metaphor inherent in the removal of Buffy's agency in her pregnancy and the horror of that. Also, the mystery of who Buffy slept with the night before would still be in play. It could be no one, or it could be a character who is also not themselves, or even the rebirth of Twilight, and the baby would therefore be a long term plan by a villain who could not leave it to Buffy to choose. The consequences would be that Buffy's child is something she will have to fight, a la Connor, and something she would have avoided if given the freedom to choose. I think that's pretty on point with what Joss would be trying to say.

Either way, I think the idea was that even if it's a non-issue with the overall arc like with Satsu, this is about portraying the character going through similar decisions as real girls her age, though Buffy's outcomes are usually different. Many girls sleep with a guy only to have him turn into a different person the next morning. Usually, they don't have to kill him and send him to hell later. Many people experiment and with their sexuality in their 20s and end up figuring out they're straight, to the dismay of their short term gay partners. Usually, they don't have to command them in battle afterward. Many girls decide to terminate a pregnancy, but usually don't find out they're a robot on their way to the appointment.
It would be very hard to contrive a coherent plot in which Buffy has been kidnapped for forced breeding. For one thing, a "choice taken away" metaphor would require her to already be pregnant, so whoever did it would have to have known -- who? When? How? Someone has her room bugged just in case she finds out she is pregnant and talks audibly about it and has the plan in place? Dubious. And that is before you still have the problems of who would do this, who even could, and why? And that's the purely Watsonian set of problems -- the Doylist list is longer.

I am going with the robot thing being about something else entirely.
The horror was in Amy's baby being stolen and her being away from Rory, not that she was forced to have the baby. And that thing that happened with the baby? Pretty horrible.
Dana, I can't help but wonder -- why do you consider that the abortion may have been a red herring, but not the pregnancy itself?
Okay, one possibility, just off the top of my head? Buffy is intentionally impregnated with a child that has some kind of all important destiny, whatever that may prove to be. The baby-daddy, assuming that Buffy's life in general was a danger to the safety of the child (and not necessarily predicting the possibility of Buffy wanting an abortion) decides to take matters into his own hands to protect it and so has a Buffybot built, which he then somehow transfers Buffy's mind into without her knowledge, ensuring that the baby stays safe and sound inside Buffy's real body.

You might also assume that the mind swap was supposed to happen before Buffy realised that she was pregnant. The intention being to move her mind into the robot body until the baby was born and then move her back again afterwards, hopefully never realising that she had given birth at all.

I certainly don't think that it's entirely out of the question that the person who got Buffy pregnant in the first place (if we do assume that she really is) was also the one who arranged for the Buffybot switch. In fact that was the very first possibility that occured to me.
I think Buffy was replaced with a robot by Andrew to protect her from an assassination attempt by Simone or some other tangentially related reason. Between the interviews we have and the solicits we have, that's what fits best. Certainly no forced impregnation/forced gestation plot could be described by sane publishers as a "hare-brained scheme", so either that refers to the robot and it's nothing nearly so nefarious as this vaguely hentai-sounding "Buffy kidnapped as a broodsow" conspiracy would be, or his is a completely other, unrelated hare-brained scheme that the issue will be focused on instead of the whole Buffy is a robot thing. Between the two, I think the former is the simplest (and Occamly speaking, best) and most likely explanation.
With all due respect, KoC, the simplest explanation often equals the least interesting. Occam's razor may well be a fantastic principle in real life, but it makes for pretty dull storytelling.

I mean, we've seen Andrew dabbling with robotic parts, sure, but doesn't that make him the least likely suspect for what has happened to Buffy, rather than the most? Why signpost the answer so obviously? Not to mention the fact that he has never been shown to have the technological knowledge to even fix a Buffybot, let alone build one from scratch. Even if we go with the idea that Andrew was involved, it seems unlikely that he managed it all alone, wouldn't you say?

And if it actually was Andrew then are we to assume that he switched Buffy into the robot at the party? It would be an explanation for her blackout but it would also pretty much wipe out any possibility that Buffy was ever really pregnant, as even the suggestion that she was only occured after the switch. That means that Joss willingly wasted the better part of two issues of the comic on a subplot that didn't really ever exist. I find that hard to believe, frankly. To go into such depth and raise such a political hot-topic as abortion when the plot was going to end with an 'Oh, I'm not actually pregnant! My bad!' seems like an incredibly un-Joss-like thing to do. I just don't see it being that simple.
Perhaps the "hare-brained scheme" will turn out to be a plot by nefarious rabbits who are behind the whole thing, finally illustrating what Anya's bunny phobia was *really* all about :)
Wind the clock back to mid-2007, and Buffy noticing that the lip gloss she borrowed from Satsu was cinnamon flavored was being thrown around in discussion threads on every forum discussing the book, probably this one as well, as obviously meaning it wasn't Satsu who kissed her because it was all too easy and obvious. Why, the argument went, signpost the answer so obviously?

And yet.

Turn the clock back to the winter of 2008, and Joss threw Buffy and Satsu into bed, even while saying the very same day it really didn't say anything permanent or interesting about Buffy's sexuality. It was just a thing people do, pretty much. And he was criticized for this. It meant, the criticism went, that Joss willingly wated the better part of an arc of the comic on a subplot that might as well not have existed. And it was hard to believe; he went to such length to raise a political hot-topic like sexual orientation (particularly the idea of total fungible sexual orientation, bisexuality like an on/off switch) when the plot was going to end with "oh, she's neither lesbian nor bisexual, just a lonely straight chick". People said it seemed an incredibly un-Joss-like thing to do.

And yet.

I refer again to the solicitations for Issues #8 and #9 --

So either the next two issues after finding out Buffy is a robot have almost nothing whatsoever to do with getting to the bottom of her being a robot... or they have everything to do with getting tot he bottom of her being a robot. And in turn, that terms like "idiotic, hair-brained scheme" are how Dark Horse feels comfortable describing a plot centering on willfully or intentionally stealing Buffy's body from her to force her to reproduce. You are free to run with that, but I'm inclined to take that information and say "well, this isn't about the forced breeding of Buffy either on purpose or by accident".

Note -- I always thought it was 'hare-brained', i.e. like a rabbit, sort of flittery and insubstantial, and not 'hair-brained'. But, I guess we still do say that some things are dumber than a bag of hair, so I guess that fits.

Wind the clock back to mid-2007, and Buffy noticing that the lip gloss she borrowed from Satsu was cinnamon flavored was being thrown around in discussion threads on every forum discussing the book, probably this one as well, as obviously meaning it wasn't Satsu who kissed her because it was all too easy and obvious.

Point. Back then, I was 100% sure that Joss was recycling his "Our Mrs. Reynolds" twist - that Satsu kissed Xander and he, in turn, kissed Buffy.

Still, I disagree about

a plot centering on willfully or intentionally stealing Buffy's body from her to force her to reproduce.

Not to reproduce. To keep a possible messiah in this world - or in the Frayverse where (s)he will be sent.

I always thought it was 'hare-brained', i.e. like a rabbit, sort of flittery and insubstantial, and not 'hair-brained'.

I think it's supposed to be a joke. In the original solicitation "hair-brained" is italisized.
I don't know, KoC. Maybe it's because I genuinely don't see the Buffy sleeping with Satsu thing as being anywhere near as big a social and political deal as the potential abortion plot (I mean, it's not like Joss hadn't already gone the homosexuality route with Willow) but I just can't compare the two plots on the same level.

For one, the idea that Buffy might be bisexual or at least open minded about sleeping with girls wasn't brushed aside in a couple of issues. Her fling with Satsu wasn't a one night stand. Okay, it hasn't been mentioned all that much since then admittedly, but I don't think that Buffy's bisexual nature, if you can call it that, is meant to have been swept under the rug as a forgotten plot point. It's just not an issue at the moment.

And I'd have to agree with Moscow Watcher that I don't see this about Buffy's body being taken simply to force her to reproduce for the sake of it. If my theory is at all correct then the reasoning behind it would be a great deal more specific than simply making sure she has a baby. It would be because this baby had a destiny that needed to be allowed to happen for some universally important event to come to pass. Not just to force Buffy into the hell that is late night feeding and nappy changing.

As for the next couple of issues' solicitation information, I'll grant you that they certainly give a very definite impression, given what we know up until now, but I'm still struggling to accept that Andrew is even capable of doing what you suggest. I'd be willing to go with him being used as a pawn in a grander scheme, but as far as I can see Andrew just doesn't have that brilliant a mind to do it all alone. In the Trio he was the demon controller, after all. Warren was the technological genius. And he's in a bucket now. ;)
It could be that robot pee is high in hormones, and the pregnancy test was the clue. Or would have been, if we knew robot pee was high in hormones.
I think it's all academic without the first empirical fact to support the "kidnapped into reproductive slavery" theory; it's sort of Season 9's "Twilight is a Future/Alternate dimension Xander" theory, something completely immune to proof or disproof before the fact. Without attributing genuine omnipresence and omniscience to whoever is supposed to be behind this, nobody who swapped her out could even have known she was pregnant.

This theory basically taken what appears to have been a topical aside in Season 9 to touch on abortion in (per Joss) a more candid way than has been found recently, and turns the entire season into that story. That is one of several factors that, each on their own, should be enough to show how unlikely it really is. That the plot hook is her giving birth to the Buffyverse's Kwisatz Haderach, or Twilight's Plan B (because Twilight seemed like something that would make plans in the event of its own failure?), or giving birth to 200-year premature twins without having first given birth to their older sister don't really make it sound more believable to me.

"I think this means I'm not pregnant" -- Buffy, 9.07, sounding every bit the "just in case you weren't paying attention" piece of exposition that the "Spike... I'm a f$@ing robot!" that followed it did.

"We dug into a topic we cared about and handled it with respect.” -- Scott Allie, sounding very much like an editor with a shovel full of dirt in hand standing over a deceased equine.
Boy, oh, boy, is this a "reader response v. authorial intent" discussion! Just saying, LOL. :-)
I have no idea *where* the plotline is going, but I'd be kinda surprised if Buffy is denied agency of her own body in order to give birth to the Messiah.
There is no such thing as reader response vs. authorial intent when it comes to predicting the story, on account of this not being a "choose your own adventure" book. Shapenew summed it up very succinctly. There is nothing but farce down the path of Buffy's robot swap being some grand reproductive conspiracy in any context. The robot swap is a thing that is happening for its own reasons. I suspect it was probably thought up before the pregnancy/abortion story, and that that was just an opportunity to tell the "moment of decision" story that Joss said had been ill-served in "Juno" and "Knocked Up". It is not as though he said the problem with either of those movies is that an abortion had not taken place, just that it had been glossed over.
Nope, disagree there, KOC. You have lots of people trying hard to interpret what has happened (i.e., bringing their own subtext). And you have some trying to understand- given what they have seen on the page- what it means. See, RR V. AI! :-) Writ small!
Abortion was not glossed over in Juno. Not at all. It was something she seriously considered, and then decided against.

I really think the author's wrong that this whole pregnancy was a head-fake and that it is now a nonissue. I don't think Joss would have come up with a silly narrative contrivance just so Buffy could decide to have an abortion.
Readers can debate and guess at whatever they like, but the objective fact of what is going to happen exists only on the authorial side of the equation. Therefore, prediction falls entirely on anticipating what their intent is. That's what I'm saying. And between an interview where the editor talks about the entire plot in a pretty definitive sounding past tense, the author having only committed himself to exactly what we got, and solicits three issues out that completely ignore the subject... I think those are all rather illuminating about authorial intent.

Squishy, I personally agree about "Juno". Joss Whedon evidently did not based on the interview he gave. So that is how we got a story about "the moment of decision" that he considered better. But nowhere did he say his complaint was that an abortion did not take place, in fact, he conspicuously steered away from the suggestion that this was going to about Buffy actually getting an abortion and, if you really parse his words, even about Buffy actually being pregnant at all.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-03-25 21:45 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-03-25 21:46 ]
It's possible you're right, but if you are, I think it would make for a really dumb story. How do you plausibly explain away the results of the pregnancy test, for example, if the pregnancy is a non-issue? I can't think of any explanation that would not come across as totally contrived and ridiculous.

On the other hand, going ahead with the pregnancy story would give the authors all kinds of great character- based dramatic material -- the kind that has been the hallmark of the best Buffy stories.

So if I'm making inferences about authorial intent, then I'm inclined to infer that they're going in the latter direction, not the former.
You really can't make inferences about authorial intent; that would be using reader response... :-) (Big smile!).
Really, I have far, far fewer problems blowing off questions like "how does a robot have a positive pregnancy test?" (Pfff, programming error) than I do questions like "so, wait, someone had this whole robot deal ready to go just in case Buffy got pregnant, learned she was pregnant possibly before she did or from intricate surveillance, and pulled this off between pages?"

Because Buffy matters.

Here's to the nerds rage :)

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