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May 08 2013

(SPOILER) Discuss Buffy Season 9 #21. It's the first part of the final arc 'The Core'.

Whoa. This one was amazing once again !
A lot of things happen and I don't want to spoil anything. It's easily one of the best issues of the season. The art is as good as in the season's beginning. This issue reminds me of Last Gleaming in a way : it has a similar epic feeling even though this season has been really character-driven.
I really liked the idea of exploring the Vampyr book more. Its introduction was the literal shifting point for Buffy to become a slayer (again, after LA). Revisiting it after all this time was cool, especially how it ties in with the old ones and the original vampire biting what I assume to be The Master.

A mighty swell issue - can't wait for the next!!
I'm gonne spoil stuff because otherwise we can't really discuss the issue.

SPOILER!!!


So I guess Xander ended up betraying Buffy after all. I'm very disappointed, especially given that what he tells Buffy about why he chose not to betray her. Very moved by Spike's actions. He's not there for Buffy, but rather for Dawn. Very sweet and very sad that she's losing memories too! Can't wait for the next issue.
I just don't see Xander's actions as being about betraying Buffy as just focussing on saving Dawn. The timescale that all this happens over is so quick and he knows she has probably only days left so his mass of emotions will be heightened and really driving his decisions. That he may not be making the best ones is understandable, what is at stake is huge. It looks to me at the moment that he is covering options to try to ensure she is saved rather than risk being passive again. I have a lot of sympathy for Xander as it currently stands.

The Spike appearance was a beautiful pick up and validation from where his focus went in his mini and him showing his emotional connection to Dawn and its deep value to him was fab. Loved that page so, so much.
@Xander I'm disappointed too, but in a way I understand him. Buffy's wrong leadership choices, his growing frustration with Dawn plus how S&S sold him their master plan - it almost looked like an utopia - make his choice understandable IMO.
What really disappoints me is that he still chooses to help S&S even when Willow's here, because she will probably be important to save Dawn's life. I just hope his betraying business won't lead to something unforgivable, but I doubt it.
...that book has shrunk considerably.
./returns to reading.
Buffy is sort of a textbook on red herrings and double bluffs; i have no personal problem with Xander betraying Buffy, i mean, if the story is good im not some sort of Xander fan that wants him to be this or that and will be grabbing at straws for his favourite character not to do something; i just dont believe in apearances and ultimate motivations... yet. ;)

And somehow, the way its all constructed and told, i smell fish. Mostly for the way it ends and the goodbye conversation between Dawn and Xander; it just seems too much bait.

[ edited by Darkness on 2013-05-08 17:48 ]
I think they've done a good job of setting up Xander for making this move. He's frustrated and angry, and therefore not thinking straight. A lot of his anger is related to his lack of trust in Buffy. He's desperate to save Dawn. We'll see how things play out, but I don't think any of this makes him a bad guy. Just one who's pretty much at the end of his rope.

I *adored* the Spike page. Couldn't have asked for more as a big Spike fan. One small quibble, though: Spike doesn't go around saying "I ain't". The only time he said the word "ain't" was in the phrase "ain't love grand", but that's the exception that proves the rule.

[ edited by Maggie on 2013-05-08 18:44 ]
Is it so straightforward? Xander warns that an attack on one entrance will draw the guards from the other one and (it would appear) that Buffy chooses to ignore this.
I have a feeling that Xander isn't really betraying Buffy. He's either double-double crossing Severin & Simone, or he plans to do so in the end.

The things he said to Buffy after he teleported back would be unimaginably cold-hearted if he was really betraying her. Selling her out to save Dawn would be one thing, but playing Buffy like that, talking about how she sacrificed her life for Dawn, would indicate more cruelty than I think Xander has in him.

I also suspect that the situation at the New Zealand end of the Deeper Well may be a trap for Severin & Simone... that Xander may have tipped off the guardians there. I'm not sure about that, but it seems incredible that all those guardians would simply abandon their posts and rush to the other side of the world without even knowing what the situation is.
I think Xander is attempting to play Xanatos Speed Chess with Buffy/Willow and Severin/Simone (who I have portmanteau'd "Severmone" for convenience), with the objective being to guarantee Dawn has her best chance to survive.

I say this because not only has Xander not yet done anything directly adverse to Buffy, and not only is he putting his own neck on the line beside his friends to fight their way in, but beyond that, Xander's collaboration with Severmone has actually helped Team Scooby, since he is the one who brought the information that the book was the key here. So he and his friends are coming from one end, Severmone from the other, and both of them attempting a plan that could plausibly save Dawn. He has covered his bets, basically.

The situation that would really force the issue of betrayal would be "what if Buffy and Willow seem unable to save Dawn, but do seem able to stop Severin?"
One thing that doesn't escape my notice is how easily he was "plucked" by S&S the first time. I know we're making this about Dawn but could we not be talking about garden variety fear at this point? He spent the majority of that issue feeling powerless. Nothing really changed, he just got captured. Then he ends up back with Buffy and yes Willow is there but can they protect him AND accomplish the mission.

I'm not saying I'm excusing the decision, but it wouldn't shock me if Xander has looked at this situation and thought he is safer playing both sides against each other until he's actually in a position to check-mate the other.
And I'll add, I have no problem if Xander actually betrays Buffy and either dies or goes through a Wesley-like period of finding himself. I'd dislike him dying, but that would at least feel organic. The prospect of Dawn waking up and hating him is gold, but that really is a rehash of Wesley/Fred post the Angel betrayal.

I still think the big issue you have with Xander dying is that if Buffy is still about gender equality on some level, Xander betraying and dying leaving only vampire heterosexual men behind in the title is sort of an odd message. They may in fact be beyond the political mindset of the TV series and so it doesn't matter. If Xander is the support guy, having him fail phenomenally isn't really a great message. Having him cope with is issues, make some bad decisions, becoming more useful, and making his support a little more contingent on friendship and usefulness and less on "well he's always been there" isn't really a bad way to go though. That's at least character growth.
You'd be hard pressed I think to find a Spike fan who isn't well chuffed with that scene, it is great. Ain't is really commonly used I think. Sure he's not Gunn or Caleb but sometimes Spike uses it too, if the transcripts are accurate outside the times he says "Ain't love grand" he uses it in The Replacement, Villains, Beneath You, Potential, Time Bomb and probably others too. I just keep hoping VG is writing plenty in S10.
I have my copy of Buffy # 21.Part I of the final season 9 arc,"The Core Part I."

I'm going to keep this short since I'm very tied up today and tomorrow but this was a very strong issue.Lot's of great character all around.Loved the Buffy and Willow moments.The moments with Dawn.God she looks so sicklly.I really want her to pull through this.The thought that she is also losing her memories is so heartbreaking.And she wanted Xander to stay.That got me.

On the Xander front.Xander,Xander,Xander.I feel for the guy but this is the wrong move.The fake out with him double playing Buffy.This is not going to end well.I have a bad feeling for Xander making through this season now.Right this second I think Dawn has a better shot.I woudn't put it past Joss that Xander will end up sacrificing himself in the end to put right his mistake in helping Sevrine and Simone.

Spike had a great entrance back and I love that he was there for Dawn,not Buffy.Feel bad that she's lost memory of him.Some speculation from me.I wonder if Illyria will show up at the apartment next issue reuniting with Spike and that will bring everybody else to the Deeper Well?

I wonder when Anaheed and Billy will factor in more(and when the others will learn about Anaheed) or will they go off on their side story in Dark Horse Presents next?

So now we have a showdown at The Deeper Well(and the info about The FIrst Vampire) with D'Hoffryn while Xander's betrayal plays out with Simone and Severin.Looking forward to see how this goes.

Again good issue.

On a personal note.I'm going on a oversees vacation again at the end of the month.I have been the last few years.Last year was Germany.The year before that was The Netherlands/Luxembourg/Belgium.In 2010 I went to Italy.And 2009 it was England/Irland/Scotland.This year I'm going to France for about two weeks.The downside though is that Angel & Faith # 22 comes out while I'm away.So I won't be able to find out what happens(won't have computer access while I'm away) or get the issue until I'm back.Which is killing me given the cliffhanger of last issue.So today's issue of Buffy was my last issue of season 9 until I'm back the beginning of June.Glad to part on a strong issue.
Have a wonderful trip!
The panel with Buffy and Dawn facing each other? Gorgeous. And if there's one thing Buffy the Vampire Slayer does well, it's ramping up the tension and drama as the season draws to an end.
Xander was the one who saved Willow. Does anyone really think he will betray Buffy?
Two observations and one question. 1) I agree with everyone who isn't jumping to conclusions about Xander. I think it is possible he filled Buffy in (off-panel), and this is meant to trick us. Maybe. 2) The scene with Spike and Dawn was perfect, if a little too brief. I'm sure we'll get more. Loved it. Made me really miss the show!
Question= So, the last Old One sired the first vampire. What about the Turok-Han? They are supposed to be basically Neanderthal vampires, so I would think they existed before humans reached the point of looking like the guy in the panel. Maybe I'm nitpicking, I don't know. It just interrupted my reading and seemed odd.
There's nothing to trick us with yet; nothing he's done so far has actually been an obstacle to Buffy's cause. In fact, it's his knowing the book's importance from Severmone that put Buffy and Willow on the trail.

I have no doubt that he is capable of actually turning on Buffy, though. Xander doesn't play when it comes to his love/protectiveness, it is a cornered-cat, mama-bear dangerous thing inside him, IMO. In the past, a lot of that energy was spent on Buffy and/or Willow; now it's all for Dawn.

I'm one of very few people who, watching "When She Was Bad", didn't think Xander was idle in his threat of Buffy -- he was that mad and blamed her that directly for the threat to Willow and the others. I mention it only as an argument for the kind of steel there actually is running through him, a very underrated part of his character, the same chutzpah that had him staring down Angelus in "Killed By Death" for instance.

Bottom line is, he's going to break in whichever direction he thinks is most likely to save Dawn's life, even if that's Severin. But since he's covered his bets, it'll depend on what they find in the Well.
Perhaps "trick" was the wrong word, because I'm in full agreement with you :). I simply meant that the story was set up to make the reader question whether or not he had betrayed her, and I wasn't prepared to rush to any judgement on the matter. I could see it VERY easily going either way.
I've no problem with the Turok-Han existing alongside or after the First Vampire. The human evolutionary tree has different types of homonids, no? Turok-Han could be another branch of the 'vampire evolutionary tree' Also, Xander's actions-though heartbreaking thus far-ring true to the character where he is, but if allowed to fester will cause irreparable damage to the 'heart' of the group. Makes you wonder if this has been Joss's plan all along for Xander (and for how long)? I understand they just did the Season 10 writer's summit meeting. Oh to be the proverbial fly on the wall.
I'm kinda bummed that what lies in The Deeper Well was written in the Vampyr book and still, Giles didn't want to help Fred's situation back in AtS S5 :(
He called her Lil' Bit! I never thought he'd call her that again. :) That made me really happy. I always thought they just tried to write out their friendship as if it never existed. I'm glad that's not true.
1) I'm NOT a Spike fan and have found him pretty much unbareable since season five of Buffy (although I did enjoy his dynamic with Angel during season five of that shows). That being said, I did a big puppy-eyed, Willow-esque "awwwww" when he ran to Dawn's side. That was one of the most poignant Spike moment's I can remember.

2) Could Xander's be the "closest and most unexpected" betrayal predicted in season 8's "Anywhere But Here" issue?

3) Thank goodness we're seeing the scoobies together again!
Turok-Han could, indeed, be "Neanderthal" vampires. Neanderthals and Homo sapien sapiens (ie, modern humans) co-existed for quite some time before the Neanderthals went extinct some 40,000 years ago. Both are subspecies of the Homo sapiens species.

It is possible that the Turok-Han were vamped Neanderthals, and existed well before the first H. s. sapien was vamped. It might be possible that the demons who began vamping humans favored the physically stronger and more robust Neanderthals, and would only vamp them. Once the Neanderthals went extinct they would then begin vamping the Cro-Magnons (ie, modern humans) of the time.

It's also a bit of a scientific mystery as to what, exactly, caused the Neanderthals to go extinct.
Excellent issue. Xander may well be playing both sides: the Scoobies involvement provides a distraction for Sev and Simone's attack to the well but the reversal is also true. And he may have filled Buffy in off-panel. But I'm beginning to think I might like it better if he actually betrayed her. It feels very un-Xander and yet... it seems more interesting things could come out from a betrayal than not.

Anyway, it's all very engaging and I've completely forgotten all the "meh" feelings I had about this comic just a few issues ago.
Read the issue. I'm still confused over Xander telling Buffy about S&S's plan if he intends to work with them, perhaps he's playing for both teams, because his main goal isn't betraying Buffy, but saving Dawn. It's a form of "the end justifies the means." He probably asked Simone to beat him up so that Buffy would just think he's kidnapped – he didn't inform S&S that he will tell Buffy the whole truth about their plan. Obviously he's giving all the info he has to both teams – except the one about him working for both teams – he's not holding anything out on Buffy and Willow, telling them exactly what S&S are looking for and what they're planning to do.

I am disappointed in Xander, however. The way he's going with this while understandable and sympathetic is really twisted, especially with how he's playing with Buffy's emotions just to make her trust him even more. I also feel deeply sad that his undying trust in Buffy in S8 has waned so much. I understand why that happened, but it's just so sad.

It's interesting that Buffy expected Xander to say "yes" to teaming with S&S, which can either be because of the bad blood between them lately or that she understands if Xander agreed. Or maybe both.

Xander's fury over Buffy's question is more directed at himself than Buffy. He is betraying her. And he hates himself for it. You can see how conflicted he is with that muttered "keep trying…" before Dawn woke up. He'll do whatever it takes to save Dawn – after the long list of deaths of the people he loved from #20, he'll make sure he'll give it his all this time and prevent Dawn's death. Even if it meant betraying Buffy and Willow.
In the end, wanna bet Willow saves Xander?
I want Xander's love for Dawn to prevail but this is still Whedonverse so I'm steeling myself for something icky.

I can't even guess where it's going but I enjoyed it. Whatever is happening, the writing and art were great. I hope S9 mediocrity is in the past.

And, as a Spike girl, those panels are my favorite of the season. "Lil' bit", sniff.....!

[ edited by hann23 on 2013-05-09 14:12 ]
I think this pairing with Dawn has made a good plot for Xander now, and makes sense with his character, that he'd now be so focused on her... but I kind of don't really wish a happy outcome for the two of them. Or, I hope Dawn survives, and maybe even everyone's memories (or part of them maybe post-season 5, so they can be in line with us, the audience) but not an all's well that ends well. If Xander really betrays Buffy, and in such the manipulative way it seems, that's the interesting version. And makes him less of a boring side-character moving forward, if he finally gets to join the bad decisions club and go on his own redemptive journey, like almost every other character in the Buffyverse. It's also a way to pay off S2 "kick his ass" without having to dwell on that same situation, but just carrying over the character trait.

Also, kind of really speculative, but it's interesting that all this is happening with Dawn, and a couple of arcs ago we saw similar memory fades happening with Connor. He made peace with his undesirable reality and is adjusting, I would like to see Dawn go through something similar. To know she's a made-up human, but take the good feelings and memories and grow as her own individual maybe from scratch. And also do it away from "The Core" group, like Connor did. I think both Dawn and Connor work better as symbols for Buffy and Angel on the outskirts of the story, rather than integral characters we see all the time (and maybe even end up together? Buffy and Angel can probably never be happy together now after Twilight, but maybe their blood/other selves can?). Also Dawn's absence would also give Xander some room for a solo story-line in Season 10, which I feel like needs to happen. He's been paired up way, way too much.
Really liked the Spike scene, though a bit short, I'm just happy it was validated that Spike cared deeply for Dawn. It's not likely getting a soul would make him care less.

When you think about it, having all of the Well's Guards at Buffy's end keeps Severin from sucking more power from them. However if he makes it in a sucks the power from the Old ones, there's not much way that can end well, unless he turns back time, and he's no longer a siphon and no longer has all that power.
Actually, maybe Xander knows what he's doing.
Prediction: Xander betrays Buffy and Willow, saves Dawn's life, but in the end she doesn't remember their relationship beyond "big brother"... leaving him to wonder if she just didn't care about him enough to hold on to the memory. Or alternately, she does remember but just can't forgive him for betraying Buffy and Willow. And Xander is alone... so terribly alone with his pain.

"Haven't I taught you anything, Anya? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain."
I'd still love to know if the first vampire is around today.
It was ok. I was hoping Willow's story was the last we'd see of giant magical demons buuut no. So there was no magic in the world at all and Willow never thought about using this well before! eh. Ok issue.
I think it's another double bluff of some kind, I don't think Xander's really betraying her because it does seem very out of character (especially at this point) for him to tell Buffy what seems like the whole story only for him to hold it back. I think the writers are withholding information and at some point there'll be a flashback which'll reveal how the Scoobies laid a trap to get back at them once and for all. I appreciate there's a line about Xander allowing himself to be beaten up, but again I've been with this franchise for too long to take every piece of exposition/explanation at face value.

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