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Season 8 Review In Full Hindsight

Discussion in 'Season 8' started by vellavu, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    This is the thread of my S8 review with the awareness of: The Origin, Fray, Tales of the Slayers/Vampires, BtVS S1-S10, AtS S1-S5, After the Fall, A&F S9-S10. I will try to update as frequently as I can, but couldn't promise to finish in a short time. I hope there would still be at least some discussions/debates to keep me going. Grammar/phrase correctness is not easy for me because English is not my mother language but I'll do as well as I can.

    Why would I choose S8? Because it has a high information density, therefore we actually have something to talk about. Some series like S10 are a fun read, but they only focus on "what happens next" instead of "what does this mean to our heroes". And some series are not even that fun. After the Fall has similar traits as S8, but personally I don't like it enough to write stuff about it.

    A Long Way Home, Vol. 1
    The title is ambiguous and has many meanings, like other good episode names. It can be understood as Buffy's adventure in the military HQ near Sunnydale, or Willow's long journey in her whatever astral plane, or just the Scoobies' current far-from-Sunnydale status.

    The cover looks like Kate more than SMG. However the cover of Vol. 40, which was similar to this cover, portrays Sarah at a shockingly high accuracy.

    So, Buffy did not choose to retire. In "Chosen", several Scoobies said they need to continue the job.

    Dawn: "We'll have to find them."
    Willow: "We will."
    Giles: "We have a lot of work ahead of us..."

    But Buffy's silence and relieved smile seemed to suggest otherwise. Anyway, at least Buffy didn't choose an un-quit-able job of guarding the Cleveland Hellmouth. And at least her responsibility of several hundred slayers was not a lifetime work.

    Did she enjoy it? I think yes to a degree. The whole "I want to have a normal life" thing in the show was more like a (legit) moaning than a true wish. It is obvious that she likes fighting demons more than schoolwork ("Bad Girls"), and is willing to bear all the burden and let other people have fun ("The Prom"). The only job outside slaying she enjoyed was the construction work, which utilizes her slayer strength. She saw training and guiding newbie slayers as a fulfilling career no matter how she was complaining. And don't mention her "slaying is comfort food" declaration. Therefore from this point of view, "Chosen" Buffy was smiling towards a long-waited vacation, instead of a permanent exit.

    Is the slayer army a cult? Is it an illegal paramilitary organization? I think it's neither. It's a loosely structured club like the Scoobies. They did not enforce disciplines, did not arrange daily PowerPoint inspiration lectures. The "Ma'am" and "Sir" naming clearly bothered Buffy and Xander a little. Buffy acted bossy because she had always been that way when giving commands since... S3 I guess. The slayers in the comics are no more minion-y than in-show Xander and Willow.

    This volume is very quick paced by Joss Whedon season opener standards. It consists of protagonist exposition, antagonist exposition, drama, action, and two surprise revealings (giant Dawn and Amy) in only 20 pages or so. The switching among three different groups was done very well.

    However, the voiceover was artificial/unnatural. The "comedy" nerd-talk between Xander and Renee was heavy-handed and not funny.

    Previously on the Buffyverse...
    There is a huge time leap (18 months) between "Chosen" and "A Long Way Home". As we know, during that timespan:
    • Xander was kept hostage in Transylvania as Dracula's manservant. Dracula released him half reluctantly after Buffy's rescue. Trivia: Dracula's true appearance is a very old man (S10 has a nice recall on this), which is strange because Vlad III lived only for 45 years.
    • Kennedy died from a mythical cause and revived, possibly by Willow.
    • Willow travelled to another dimension to finish her professional magic training, guided by Aluwyn.
    • Dawn was in Berkeley before she was cursed into a giant by her boyfriend Kenny.
    • Buffy and Giles were estranged somehow.
    • AtS S5 and After the Fall happened.
    The last two bear several apparent questions:

    Why was Giles keeping so little contact with Buffy in early S8, considering cellphones are (finally) used by the majority in Buffyverse?
    I think there might be following reasons: Buffy hadn't totally forgiven Giles' attempted killing of Spike. The discovery of Buffy's bank robbery pissed off Giles. Buffy found that Giles sent Andrew to declare that Angel was the enemy, without noticing her. ("Damage")

    Did Buffy already know that Spike was alive in Vol. 1?
    I think she does, as long as she was mentioning Spike in her "miss that sex" voiceover.

    When did Whistler convince Angel to wear the Twilight mask?
    Also no idea. What we know is that "Damage" happened 6 months after "Chosen", that's 12 months before "A Long Way Home". Twilight happened later than "After the Fall", which ended 1 month later than "Not Fade Away", which happened after "Damage". So we can safely say that the duration between Whistler-Angel talk and "A Long Way Home" was less than 11 months. But how much less? It depends on how much time passed between "Damage" and "Not Fade Away", as well as your opinion about the canonical status of whatever IDW delivered in Vol 18-44.

    Highlights
    Buffy was wearing a T-shirt while other slayers had body armors.
    The Illyria-style catwoman dress was hard to relate to. It was a good decision to dress her with normal clothes instead of anything that reminds us of a superhero costume, especially in the first page.

    "Everybody calls me "ma'am" these days. There used to be one Slayer in all the world. Eighteen hundred now, that we've counted. Almost five hundred working with us, in ten separate squads. There's even three of ME."
    Bad voiceover. There is no way Buffy would form such continuous sentences in her mind in any situations. It's pure exposition pretending to be Buffy's thoughts.

    Xander in the command center, surrounded by slayers.
    I don't think Xander had authority over the slayers more than whatever these girls give him. Xander/Renee relationship was apparently less morally problematic than TA-Riley/student-Buffy relationship, because Xander had no practical way to threaten her for sex bribe.
    His "watcher" role was also justified. He had been doing research with Giles and Willow starting from S2. He sucked at it, but only compared to them. Watcher's council was gone, Giles was separated from the team, Willow hadn't come back, Dawn was too big to see tiny words on these tiny screens clearly. Xander was a very logical choice.

    The slayer quad vs 3 demons fighting scene.
    This one is better than most of later fights of this season. The coordination between two teams and the solo-Buffy was very well executed. It tried some overhead cameras and long-range views the show was unable to regularly deliver. These techniques were used a lot in later seasons. My only complaint: in the bird-eye-view picture of three dead demon bodies and the bunch of slayers scattered around them, there are no character focus, but this is a dialogue-heavy panel. It somehow blurs reader's attention.

    The Twilight/Army Sunnydale scene.
    General Vol's "hard-line ideology" accusation was ridiculous. Buffy follows pragmatism most of the time. She band-aids the world against demons. It was the general's boss who had an ideology.
    Amy's reflection on the recon guy's mask was genuinely scary. I can picture a vivid TV version in my head.

    Buffy and Dawn's tension.
    The whole dialogue was perfectly in character if you treat it as a hospital bed scene. Dawn, as a patient, understandably whined more than she usually did. Buffy was tired of routinely hanging out with the giantess. And it is human nature to treat long-term patients as kids.
    I have a feeling that Dawn's talking about Willow was part of her whining, to intentionally make Buffy feel bad. It was Xander who she finally talked to. The "freezing" line was also possibly an excuse not to go out, since larger mammals are more cold tolerant than smaller ones (surface area vs volume, simple physics).
    The "Face it, we haven't really gotten along since... since we changed the world" monologue seems to imply that there were still fallouts after Buffy made Xander knock Dawn out with chloroform.
    The drawing of the sky/cloud was dirty/messy. This was not how a sunset should be like.

    "And sex, great muppety Odin, I miss that sex."
    The writer was deliberately teasing shippers by not providing more information here. My best guess (though I'm reluctant to admit): no surprise, she was mentioning Spike. Because that probably was her latest sex. Any other assumptions that she had sex with slayers/random dates/Xander during the 18 months needs significant making-up of stories. Following my guess, she already knew Spike was alive by now, otherwise her voiceover would contain some mourning afterwards.
    The "great muppety Odin" swear tells us that Xander probably had a big influence on her vocabulary. "Merciful Zeus" anyone? Recently this poor girl only had Xander to talk to.

    The general prison cell scene.
    General Vol was already a more full-fledged character than many military antagonists in movies, and of course, Billy. We learned from two panels that Vol was sufficiently intelligent, clueless, a little too proud but still willing to listen, and obsessed with food. While we learned from two big fat volumes that Billy was a nice normal gay.

    Quotes
    Buffy: "Thanks, I work out."
    Buffy: "...and anyhow Willow's the expert on boys since when now?"
    Vol: "At least tell me they had the decency to go insane."

    Random Details I Can Identify
    Buffy was wearing a serenity T-shirt.
    The slayer squad helicopter was very similar to the watcher's council's. It's black, while the general's helicopter was green.
    Xander's eye patch is now a glass (or at least reflective) one.
    Amy was found in the Sunnydale Natural History Museum, where Inca Mummy Girl, Acathla, and Trio's diamond were first introduced.
    The general had sufficient cheese in hand. ("Cheese, of course.") His love of cheese was confirmed in later volumes.
    We can't be 100% sure that the floating boots and cloak belonged to Twilight. Pearl can fly and had black boots as well.
     
    sosa lola: Awesome review.
    thetopher and gite63 like this.
  2. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    The Long Way Home, Vol. 2
    This volume's cover contains an extremely young Xander and a proper aged Buffy. It has no relationship to the main content of separate slayer squads, Dawn/Xander, or Amy. The Buffy/Xander kiss fake-out is indeed filling a whole panel but it's hardly a cover-worth topic. Even if it can be, the art style should be more surreal than the oil-painting they managed.

    There are several important facts that are revealed or confirmed.

    The first one: Giles acted cold, distant and speech-y. In the show, of the three slayers, he disliked Buffy the most in their first meet. Yet he was still friendlier and more casual than this. Also, in S7, he wasn't that formal towards the potentials. This strengthens my theory that some conflicts between Buffy and Giles changed him. Take one conjecture for example: he became close to Buffy, only to be door-slammed by Buffy in "Lies My Parents Told Me". It must have been demoralizing and exhausting for him, so he would rather not try to make friends to new slayers.

    The second one: the whole no-gun-rule thing. Buffy used modern weapons occasionally before, when necessary: explosives against the Mayor, taser against Adam, rifle shaped force field disrupter in S8 Vol. 1. Guns are simply not very effective against vampires and demons: the Initiative soldier vs demons combat was a good example. A medieval junk is better for their job and provides less seduction of treading on ordinary humans.

    Last: Buffy developed a subconscious feeling for Xander. I don't buy any theory that Xander was already in Buffy's list before "Chosen". It should be more or less recent. I also don't believe it's a random sex-terror dream in which the target male's identity was not important. Because both "…so we don't have to do a whole awkward dance" and "I'll be gentle THIS TIME" strongly suggested otherwise.

    This volume is a little disoriented, and feels less "smooth" than the last one. It was mainly the drawing/camera choice that should be blamed, instead of writing/scripting. I will point them out as much as I can, in the highlights.

    Highlights
    Giles overseeing a ninja costume slayer team fighting a casual dress slayer team.
    It has some a good continuity. We know that post "After the Fall" world already knew about the prevalence of demons because of the memories of LA residents. Therefore, "don't tell anyone" becomes history, and they can practice massive fighting on a plaza in London now.
    Why were there no translators for non-English-speaking slayers? Maybe they are among the slayers, or some slayers themselves.
    The British version of "Buffy", "Willow" and "Satsu" was very, very distracting.

    Buffy fighting Leah, Rowena, Satsu.
    Ah, the drawing here really sucks. There are four scenes of their 1 vs 3 fight and they don't form a continuous fighting sequence at all. They seem to be four disjoint random pictures taken from a long battle, instead of a quick, one-sided fight they want us to believe. The similar Buffy vs slayers fighting in S8 Vol. 40 was much better than this one.

    Italy: Andrew and Simone.
    Andrew was not responsible for Simone's later actions. Simone was not curiously asking for an explanation why they can't have guns. She just wanted guns. If her speech in "The Core" was not a lie, she was determined to kill Buffy before she joined the squad. It it was, her main targets were presumably humans.
    Andrew's dismissive "no argument" attitude might be his second-hand imitation of Giles. Or he was just tired of debates.

    Dawn/Xander giantess talk.
    The size ratio between Dawn and the lake was portrayed inconsistently. The lake seems to be larger and deeper in the bottom two pictures.
    Dawn's idea about whether Buffy should be around was always random. In the show, she declared not wanting Buffy to babysit her, yet she liked to hang out in/spy on Buffy's room. She complained that Buffy didn't have time for her, yet when Buffy was at home she decided to sleepover in her friend's house. Maybe we can conclude that she likes drawing Buffy's attention more than communicating with Buffy.
    Xander's question about whether she became a giantess on purpose was legit and insightful, though he turned out to be wrong in hindsight. Kenny pre-arranged the whole sequence of shapeshifting modes for her.
    Did Renee, Buffy, or any other people, know that Xander was watching Dawn all naked and wet?

    General Vol and the suit.
    The general was ready to nuke Buffy's castle. If Amy had not been found, how would Twilight stop him from doing so? Maybe sending his other minions to provide alternatives for the general I guess.

    Buffy/Xander scene intertwined with Buffy's dream.
    Which parts belong to reality? Another question I'm unable to answer. Here is my best guess: after Xander said "with the guilt, and--", Buffy said goodbye to him and went to sleep. Her dream started from the next panel. All discussions about Dawn were in real life, while all sex stuff was in her dream. The non-distinguishing between reality and dream was intentional. So I couldn't criticize the drawing here.
    After Xander's head fell to the floor, Buffy was sucked out of the window by an invisible force. It was followed by a whole page of (shared) slayer prophecy dream.
    In the dream: Falling from a broken window alone.
    What actually happened later: Dashed by Faith, then falling together. (No Future For You, Vol. 8)
    In the dream: Palms and feet penetrated by four claws.
    What actually happened later: Palms and feet tied to the bed by Amy.
    In the dream: A gargoyle.
    What actually happened later: Two gargoyles.
    In the dream: The gargoyle breathed fire.
    What actually happened later: The gargoyles' master, Roden, performed fire magic.​
    I can't locate the future correspondence of Buffy's line "I know you…" and the gargoyle's line "Yesss…Ssscream…" though.

    Amy's infiltration and the zombie army.
    The switching between Buffy's dream and Amy's assassination attempt can cause frustration. The camera should point towards the sleeping Buffy before the dagger wielding Amy. The choice of directly skipping Buffy's front face was simply unnatural and wrong. It also made Amy less scary as another side effect.
    The slayers vs zombies scene was very similar to the London slayers vs ninja-outfit-slayers scene: the coordination and tactics are lacking. Xander forgot most of his soldier trainings as early as S4 with the proof of his fight against Harmony. So I won't blame him here. Renee's being stabbed by a blade was not a good fake-out. There is neither blood nor through-chest pointy end.
    Another question: did Amy know Willow was going to show up? Amy herself's line in the next volume seems to suggest yes. But how? My theory is that Willow's return was unexpected by Amy, and her "So's the army" line was just a typical witty Buffyverse battle cry.

    Quotes
    Suit: "Then hung." Vol: "Hanged."
    Buffy: "New wish! New wish!"
    Xander: "Amy. Long time, no desire whatsoever to see."
    Willow: "As a friend of mine once said… I'd like to test that theory."

    Random Details I Can Identify
    The building outside the window in Giles' room was almost exactly the same as the building in Willow's back on A&F S9 Vol. 10. So I'm pretty sure Giles was in his own apartment.
    Willow was wearing Tara's outfit.
    The tanks in the general's HQ are NOT the same as what they used later in the Tibet battle.
    All Georges Jeanty's clouds are flat-bottomed.
    Amy brought down two slayers without her eyes turning dark. Her eyes turned black when dragging Willow through the portal in the next volume though.

    What I Can't Identify
    What was the red thingy holding a blade on Buffy's T-shirt?
    Buffy's room has two portraits on the wall. One of them seems like a aristocrat-y dressed lady. The other one was a… bank robber? Who can recognize them?
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 1, 2015 ---
    Should be "The Long Way Home, Vol. 1.
    Should be Nash instead of Pearl
     
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  3. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

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    I'd say Xander on the cover is the appropriate age for the character. They're 24 in S8, right? Nicholas Brendon was 26 when he played 16 year old Xander - which made Xander look way too old for a high school kid.

    [​IMG]

    They have obviously used this picture to draw Xander in the second cover. Nicholas Brendon was roughly 27 here.

    [​IMG]

    I love your S8 reviews. Keep them up. :)
     
  4. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    The Long Way Home, Vol. 3
    It was definitely a ready-to-be-dark Willow who appeared on the cover page. Check out the black clouds, the apparent dark magic traits, and her outfit. This was pretty cool, though a little bit off with respect to the contents.

    (Non-dark)Willow's eye color was one of eternal mysteries about the comics.
    S8: blue at first, brownish green later.
    Wonderland miniseries: sometimes brownish green, sometimes pure green.
    S9, S10: sometimes brownish green, sometimes bluish green.​
    Someone make up their minds please… Or maybe the chameleon eye color is a side effect of witchcraft practicing?

    As we can see, dark magic had not been "devouring" or "destructing" Amy at all. She was sane, coherent, intelligent, and resourceful. My theory is that professional witches like Amy and Tara received self-control trainings in their young age. In contrast, the rank arrogant amateur Willow had to learn it the hard way by turning all veiny and then being sent to the rehab coven.

    This issue was very well written and painted. The viewpoint arrangements were almost flawless, and the switching was smooth. I will directly get to the highlights.

    Highlights
    Buffy's dreamspace tour: 1 slayer vs 2 vampires, erotically.
    Buffy threw up in her mouth a little when she found it was Ethan Ryan who called her "my love". Buffy also considered Giles/Olivia as "gross" in "The Freshmen". I guess she really thinks that any human older than 40 should be asexual. 200 year old vampires are OK though.
    The threesome scene must have been analyzed to death when the comics first came out. I would provide the shallowest and most straightforward comments here: two trains entering the same tunnel in opposite entrances was as blatant/dirty as "under your spell". The wood stakes raining into flowers and the volcano eruption were no subtler. There were no other male adults in this certain picture, but there might be Riley, Xander, or even Riley+Xander, elsewhere in her dreamspace. Who knows.
    Buffy said she wasn't attracted to porn in "The Freshmen" so the "naked Angel, nurse Buffy, naked Spike" might be a subconscious copy of few porns she had actually seen. It was "human bondage" which made her mentioning porn in "The Freshmen". Well, vampire(s) bondage here.

    Willow battled Amy.
    This, was the how you should use of the comics form. The show can only have boring lightning chain and "throw you far away" due to budget limitations. Here we have: a magic duel 100 feet above ground, huge shockwave turning zombies into dancing corpses, techno-magic energy ball that dissects people in pixels, and a witch being stepped on by a huge shoe from the air to the ground. If only they can stick to this kind of interesting large scale fights, instead of going all train lifting or mountain sized demons as they actually did in the latter half of S8…
    Willow can return from a dark hair dark eye mode back to normal now.

    Buffy's dreamspace tour: a collection of memory slices.
    There are five lanes of cubes in which pictures are more or less recognizable. There are also some cubes in the bottom which belonged to no lanes. The lanes are counted from left to right. While in each lane the pictures are in the up-to-down order. Question marks are for those I'm uncertain.
    Lane1: Clem?, Tara.
    Lane2: Anya, Jenny?, Faith.
    Lane3: Caleb, Oz?, Scoobie Trio, Buffy+Angel, Faith+Mayor, Angel, Joyce, Buffy Giles library scene, Buffy Giles Bronze scene, Dawn.
    Lane4: unknown girl, Wesley, Buffy+Riley?
    Lane5: "Buffy&Angel 4Ever" handwriting, the whole team in "Prophecy Girl", the Master, Spike.
    Bottom: Joss Whedon, Angelus?, first slayer.​

    Giles/Demon negotiation.
    It was almost clear that Twilight sacrificed two of his human minions, just to attract those three demons in Vol. 1 out, in order to trigger a war between the slayer army and them. And it seems that Giles had been keeping this demon clan in line way before that. I bet he did not let Buffy know about the truce.
    Did these human skulls belong to people eaten by this demon? If so, what "protocol" was Giles talking about? "If you only eat less than 10 people a month we can have peace" or something like that? OK, a friendlier guess is that the demon dug them out of graves to prevent vampires rising up and then kept them as trophies… Or are they chimpanzee skulls?

    Xander and injured Renee.
    This was sweet. Sorry but he was nicer to Renee than pre-girlfriend Cordy and pre-girlfriend Anya.
    Apparently some slayers were nurses before Willow's empowerment magic. Were there cooks? Helicopter drivers? Castle maintainers? Maybe non-slaying jobs were done by robots copied from Buffybot.

    Italy: Andrew in a room of slayers.
    This was hilarious. A bunch of half naked slayers in front of you and you were bored and you still haven't wondered about your orientation at all. I think this one-liner Andrew with cameo-like limited appearance works better than a babbling protagonist-view Andrew.

    Buffy/Willow bonding.
    "…bone a thricewise?" was a spicy sentence I can't imagine the in-show Willow would say. She must have been learned quite a few dirty talks from Aluwyn.
    Buffy's "How's Kennedy, Are you still--" line was another example of how the writers treated Kennedy. During Willow/Kennedy romance, we have Willow flirting Fred, Willow having sex with Aluwyn, and now Buffy's uncertainty about their relationship. Ha!
    I think Kennedy's "death for a month" happened between Willow's dimensional trip: Kennedy did not bring the topic of her death before Willow's leaving in "Goddesses and Monsters". And Willow had just come back. So it should have been neither before or after.
    Buffy's "…and I was COVERED in it! Covered!" was describing to Willow some naughty stuff in her dreamspace instead of smooches in reality. Buffy's line was "'Slow year'… I said that… God, my dream…" instead of "I said that in my dream", therefore we can safely infer that they were already in a context of dream discussion before Xander came in.

    Amy's trap and the revealing of skinless Warren.
    It seems that Willow can do some mind-reading or at least personal-history-trace reading now. But what are these solder's outfits? The next volume's soldiers don't look like these. Maybe Willow's strange impression of soldiers affected her mind-reading results a little?
    The body shape of skinless Warren was much more athletic than S6 Warren. Amy must have performed some extra spells other than invisible skin conjuring.
    Nitpicking: Buffy's trousers grew in size significantly after she crashed the wood weapon shelf/box. It made Buffy less like Buffy and more like a pissed off dancing party girl covered with silk cloth.

    Quotes
    Xander: "Ladies and other ladies… the incredible Rosenberg."
    Giles: "No one's exactly giggling on this side of the fence either."
    Buffy: "So it's either Vin Diesel or porn, neither of which is real attractive."
    Dawn: "Is that why I've got an army of the undead playing pride and prejudice around my ankles?"

    Random Details I Can Identify
    The "Cupid" monster in the threesome dream held a crossbow instead of a bow.
    Satsu was hidden well from all scenes in this volume. Sneaky.
    Either Dawn was so behaving that she really kept her eyes shut after Willow told everyone to, or her surprised reaction to Buffy/Satsu sex in "Wolves At The Gate" was a fake.
    Why didn't Gile want to watch the demon reading his little paper of Twilight symbol? (He wiped his eyeglasses during the demon's reading.) Maybe the demon needs inappropriate body parts to read?

    What I Can't Identify
    Who is the pig-faced shoulder-armored axe-wielding demon warrior between Amy's cage and the XXX symbol?
     
  5. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    The Long Way Home, Vol. 4
    Best cover page so far! My only complain is that Buffy's posing was a little wooden. The background, the lightning, and the face expression of Dawn were perfect.

    There are two confusing parts in this volume. The first one is Buffy/Willow's enjoining spell. Did the spirit of the first slayer already harmless to Buffy? If so, why didn't they perform it more often? If not, where were the consequences? My best guess is that the goddesses in the magic dimension performed a side-effect-free version.

    The second one is, of course, where did Amy's affection of Warren come from? Well, irrational love plus the concept of "bizarrely cool villain couple" already provided enough justification I think.

    I am positive that General Voll's "slayer=demons" thoughts were just channeling Twilight, while his (milder than Caleb/Warren)misogynic attitude belonged to himself. The general had his own bottom lines and priorities. This proved that he was not a minion of Twilight, just a follower of the Twilight ideology. Like Pearl/Nash, he was influenced by Twilight but not controlled.

    This volume is pretty much an action-only one. Therefore I will take some more time on the drawing.

    Highlights
    Warren torturing Willow.
    Why could the First Evil take Warren's shape? A reasonable explanation would be that the First Evil held an out-dated view about death same as the prophecy's. It considers death as the stopping of breathing/heartbeat, which can be reversed by CPR. So Warren was dead for a short while (Joss: 1 second), then revived, like S1 Buffy. It's natural death, but so what? Being drank and drown was also natural death.
    Warren's "Try it. Go dark. I wish you could." line followed by his removal of Willow's eyeballs was very sadistic and disturbing. Did he mean that empty eye sockets are black? *shiver*
    The water goddess's "For goodness sake, yes." line was amusing. Who was she answering to? I think it's Aluwyn. My headcanon: Aluwyn sensed Willow's pain and begged the goddesses to save Willow. The goddesses agreed but specifically disallowed them from meeting.
    Amy can disable the cameras within the military HQ without being punished. Does this mean the general indeed had a lot of confidence in her, or Twilight already noticed her and told the general to be more tolerant?

    The Buffy/Dawn scene.
    Dawn's jacket and pants seemed to be inflated by air. Chubby Dawn LOL.
    I believe that Buffy's reaction to "Will is like a mom to me." was more about the sadness over the loss of Joyce than the self-disappointment about Dawn/Willow special bonding.

    Slayer HQ, battle preparation.
    Buffy wore the cross-shaped necklace again. It's the first time since S8.
    Xander's "Teleportation's not an exact magic" exposition to Buffy tells us that his "watcher" role was not a joke. I think he enjoyed this "full time watcher" role more than "full time carpenter, part time Scooby" role so far, and it was Gile's death that made him prefer a normal life again. He had always been scared of a normal life, especially a domestic one.
    After Buffy's decision of fighting with Satsu, Leah was all relaxed and funny, Rowena seemed to be a little jealousy, while Satsu was nervous. Satsu's eye color was too light for an east asia girl in her reflection on the katana, but maybe one of her parents was from Europe or America.
    What did Leah's "Don't embarrass us." mean? My guess is that the junior slayers are still at their "trying to impress Buffy" stage.
    Buffy changed to a full body armor before entering the portal. I don't have any problem with this. It would be ridiculous if she still chose to wear some casual dress knowing that your will confront human soldiers with guns. It's different to the S4 fight, because the Initiative soldiers were not her enemy.
    I think the "ray gun" was powered by magic siphoned from Willow. The mirror vs magic scene was a nice recall to "Witch". If it's an actual ray gun backed by technology, the mirror would be melt to gas immediately, even if it can reflect 99% of the light, because the rest 1% was already enough to destroy it.

    Battle of the military HQ.
    Buffy and Satsu's fighting skills are truly amazing. They dodged bullets and incapacitated the soldiers without killing them. There were at least 15 soldiers and Voll himself being taken down by the two slayers. Both Buffy's scythe and Satsu's katana were sharp. It takes a lot of care to cut only shallow wounds.
    Buffy was seriously using injured soldiers for negotiation. I have no problem with that.
    The SuperBuffy vs Amy fighting sequence was pretty cool. I think it's better with respect to intensity and cleverness than Buffy vs Adam. The green gauntlet presumably has the ability to un-summon Amy's rock golem. Buffy taking the shape of Amy's mom was similar to Dracula using magic to make himself look young. Amy's last-second teleportation before the grenade exploded was brilliant too.
    Was Amy's "Time to go, sweetie" speaking to Warren or Buffy? Was "I just do not get tired of saying that…" spoken by Warren or Amy? Anyway we can see that Amy genuinely cared for Warren.

    Rescuing Willow and non-rescuing Ethan.
    What if the general succeeded in killing Buffy with his pistol? Did Twilight put any magic wards in the general's HQ to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Or did he just have confidence in Buffy and dismiss the army's capabilities?
    Mutilated Willow healed super fast after the siphon device was stopped. She performed self-healing in "Villains" and "Same Time, Same Place" so I can't see what the complaints of discontinuity come from. Well the soldier healing was new, but Willow couldn't just have had sex with Aluwyn while learned nothing in the slow year right?
    Buffy knocked off a locked metal door rather easily. It reminds me that she needed Xander to help block the door with several vamps trying to break in at the other side in "The Harvest", and needed Giles/Xander to open an elevator door in "Primeval". She indeed improved a lot from training.
    Ethan's death scene: the shadow cast on his head looked like half of his head was blown off. It's not. We can see from A&F S9 that Ethan's head was pretty much intact if the tiny bullet hole didn't count.
    Also, how much did he know? Why the did general kill him? Did he perform enough magic in the cell so that he already knew about Angel? I checked "Death and Consequences" and saw no mentioning. So it would be vague forever I guess.
    Buffy's face expression switching was brilliant in the last panel.
    After Buffy accepted the war declaration of General Voll, why didn't Buffy keep him as a prisoner? Or maybe Buffy did? His next appearance was in Vol. 38. A lot can happen during such a long timespan...

    Quotes
    Buffy: "No. Panic."
    Buffy: "Deja thing."
    Warren: "Her magic is my skin."
    Amy: "They have a history. She's kind of a history major."
    Xander: "I'll watcher your butt, lady."

    Random Details I Can Identify
    SuperBuffy's eyes were black when performing magic here. In S4, the eyes were yellow.
    The black thingy on Warren's left arm was a shadow cast by trees.
    I'm no military nerd. I can only recognize MP5 submachine guns here, an M4 assault rifle in Vol. 1. I don't know what kind of pistol the general was using.

    What I Can't Identify
    What was that fluffy pink bear in Satsu's shoulder?
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 3, 2015 ---
    Sorry, I got this wrong. The cheese-craving general was not General Voll.
    You are right. Xander should only be about 24 at the starting point of S8.
    I also appreciate that A&F kept Angel's appearance un-aged like a real vampire.
    Thanks, I will try. Rereading was a lot of fun (true for the first half season at least).
     
    sosa lola: It does go downhill after the Twilight reveal.
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  6. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    Fix: I remembered that Willow healed Buffy's wound almost instantly after removing the bullet from her heart. That can't be Buffy's slayer healing because it's way too fast. Yes, magic can heal others. It's show canon.
     
  7. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Interlude: Our Five Heros
    Before reviewing "The Chain". I would like to take some time analyzing five most complex characters involved in S8 to justify how they got their ways here. The opinions will be highly personal and with some rationalization of S8 storyline thrown in. Here I discuss Buffy, Xander, Giles, Angel and Spike. Faith's analysis would be done along with the reviews of "New Future For You", while Willow will be discussed in the "Goddesses and Monsters" one.

    Buffy and Her Superiority Complex
    Hard truth from wrong people:
    "Could say the same about you. You're still the same old better-than-thou Buffy." (This Year's Girl)
    I'm better than you:
    "If I was any more open minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fall out." (The Yoko Factor)
    Fellow slayer, don't doubt yourself:
    "People die. You lead them into battle, they die." (End of Days)
    The girl responsible for you is me:
    "I hate being here. I hate that you have to be here. I hate that there's evil, that it's growing, and I hate that I was chosen to fight it." (Chosen)

    Buffy surely went through a lot and changed a lot from S4 to S7. She was dead and revived, became highly depressed and partially healed. She also turned into a reluctant babysitter, of one first, then a couple dozen. But there is one thing she has been keeping with her, starting from S4. It could even be traced back to her time of Hemery High. That is, she takes granted of her popular cheerleader position. The Chosen One identity cemented this attitude instead of changing it.

    Her talent and the mythical slayer power gave her enough charisma and wisdom to lead the Scoobie gang, which as a typical size of 6 to 8. It worked nicely or at least fine, thus again reinforced her self-impression.

    Buffy's army defied the whole slayer-line restrictions, and triumphed over the First Evil. But she only won the war with her insight to look through all those traditionalism/mythical bullshits with the lens of a valley girl's common sense. She did not win the war because of her slayer or leading skills. She never proved that she can properly lead her S7 30-soldier squad.

    However she learned the wrong lesson because she won anyway. Therefore Buffy automatically assumed that she had the ability and responsibility to find and guide the slayers. The slayer instincts made her continue her slayer job though she can throw her burden to other 2,000 girls, while the superiority complex made her choose to endure everyone calling her "ma'am".

    Xander and His Daddy Issue
    Xander wants every aspect of himself having nothing to do with his father.

    He rarely drinks. Each drop of alcohol draws him a little closer to Mr. Harris.

    He is subconsciously attracted to strong or weird girls, just to guarantee that he will not have a "normal" marriage that leads to his father's life.

    He follows everyone else's orders, because he wants so hard to make sure that he will be nothing like an alpha male.

    Buffy was less likely to draw him into a normal daily life than Willow. He was attracted to Buffy more than Willow.

    Cordelia bullied him so he can safely be unlike his father. He dated Cordelia. After Cordelia became more docile and sweet to him, he freaked out and began to search for Faith and Willow.

    Anya publicly declared that he didn't look like an alpha male. He dated Anya. After Anya began asking for marriage, he freaked out again.

    His father's life still haunted him. It is true that he grew sick of the butt monkey status, and found his suave side to be existing. But he didn't trust his stronger self. He was not sure if his stronger self would make him a better person, or just a person like his father who stomps on females.

    S9 and S10 proved that his worry was partially justified. His anger problem manifested almost as soon as he tried a normal life (construction) with a normal girl (Dawn). His spent his whole Scoobies life escaping, now he can't. I hope it would be some plot turn instead of a background mental therapy that finally disperses his inner fear.

    So back to S8: No weak Xander, and no "strong towards your spouse" Xander. Keeping following a female leader, living in a Scotland castle and fighting supernatural enemies everyday is the natural choice to keep himself a huge distance from a life of 9-5 workday, drinking, and domestic violence.

    Giles and His Rebellious Ripper Within
    Giles Buffy relationship was very distinctive. So different to any other relationships in the Buffyverse.

    Giles was both the rebellious kid and the disappointed parent.
    Buffy was also both the rebellious kid and the disappointed parent.
    Yet they also have kind of a equal friendship on top of that.

    Episodes where Giles was apparently the parental figure to Buffy: Prophecy Girl, Lie to Me, The Prom, Graduation Day, Grave.
    Episodes where Buffy was apparently the parental figure to Giles: Band Candy, The Freshmen, The Yoko Factor, Checkpoint, most of the S7.
    Episodes where they were equal friends: Bad Girls, A New Man.

    Merrick died voluntarily and heroically for Buffy. That was Buffy's first impression of a watcher: an old man with no private life and being ready to die for his slayer. Giles knew he wasn't supposed to have any private life either, from the day his grandma dragged him back and asked him to atone for his Eyghon mistake.

    But his inner Ripper didn't agree.

    The first time it broke through was S4. This kid was just like Dawn in terms of not making sense. First you said Buffy should do things without you, then you are not happy with Buffy treating you as a retired librarian and not training with you?

    The second time was S6. It totally took over and reminded me of Ripper dashing out from the watcher's council. This Ripper kid was tired of Buffy's expectations and wanted to have some fun, no matter how the Giles persona believed it was for Buffy's own good.

    Buffy finally realized this and decided to cut him some slack. By denouncing Giles as her watcher in "Lies My Parents Told Me", she finally set Giles free without making him feel guilty. From Buffy's point of view it's a proper punishment to Giles' betrayal. From Giles' point of view it's Buffy's childish reaction. But if we think in a more objectively way, it's a necessary estrangement before a more healthy and less twisted relationship.

    Angel and Lip Service
    Immortals don't change. This one applies to Angel more than Spike.

    Angel can understand his mistakes. He can have epiphanies one after another. But he can't fully internalize what he has learnt. Besides Angelus the demon, he has not just one but two voices in his head:

    1. Good Angel, who follows the memories of his mistakes, the consequences of his actions, as well as wise suggestions of his friends.

    2. Another good Angel. He takes atonement as a way to redemption, instead of something to do just for its own. He seeks the easy way out. He likes flashy shiny entrances and exits.

    When good-Angel-2 takes over, everything good-Angel-1 learns becomes a lip service. He constantly learns and then forgets, about almost the same thing. For example:

    First epiphany: Buffy told Angel strong is fighting and is every day. (Amends)
    The hell with epiphany: He changed his life goal into messing W&H up. (Reunion)

    Second epiphany: Angel found by himself that fighting is every day, and not just beating one big boss. (Epiphany)
    The hell with epiphany: He deliberately shortens his atonement by bribing Cordy, in the very next episode. (Disharmony)

    Third epiphany: Angel found that he should not make a grand deal by selling your team members to devils for money, instead he should earn by each honest case. (Provider)
    The hell with epiphany: He finally sold not just his team member but also himself. (Home)

    Fourth epiphany: Cordy told Angel that a big fat memory wipe and a grand "takeover" of W&H is no good. (You're Welcome)
    The hell with epiphany: Angel made a rash decision not knowing about the consequences just to see what would happen. (Not Fade Away)

    What about the fifth epiphany? Nothing. His bad decision had no consequence this time! Time was rewinded, LA W&H disappeared, Gunn was revived, the Senior Partners lost tons of money and resources, Angel became celebrity of LA. WTF?

    His good-Angel-2 side was rewarded, not punished. Then with Cordy gone, Wes gone, there was no one who could prevent his astray. Twilight is a logical result.

    So no matter how I hate the Twilight arc, I have to admit that "After the Fall" already determined the whole thing. To prevent the Twilight from happening, Angel should not get away with LA's fall to hell so easily.

    Spike and His Fourth Persona
    This guy is too complex for me to give a full proper analyze. I can only sketch him.

    Core persona: William, the poet. Sentimental, social awkward, narrow-mindedly dedicated to one thing/person. This persona faded when he chose to wear a mask of a rebellious, impulsive and cockney vampire. But it still affects him in various ways during his whole unlife.

    Fake surface persona I: Spike, the punk and slayer of slayers. Rebellion, pretending to be crass/under-educated, cockney accent. This persona almost totally collapsed down after "The Initiative".

    Fake surface persona II: Damsel saver, the hero (he thought) Buffy wanted. He used his own imagination of Angel as the prototype no matter how he would deny. He thought Angel was bloody stupid and would do something unnecessarily heroic. Then he followed that "example": dramatically "saving" Buffy in the cemetery, using bare hands to capture swords in "Spiral", refusing to contact Buffy in "Damage".

    Fourth persona in progress: A brand new vampire. It started shaping after "The Initiative", but he still had no idea what this new man should be like before S8. Locking himself in a spaceship with a bunch of minion insectoids may not be the best way of self discovery, but side-kicking Angel(or Twilight already?) was a worse choice. It can only bring the bad side of the bloody awful William out. He also didn't know which mask to wear if he came back immediately to Buffy, except the Angel-clone "hero", and he already understood that's not Buffy wanted. No matter how much Buffy he wasn't over, he needed time to find himself first, and he knew it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  8. Monkey Pants

    Monkey Pants Bored Now

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    I love these reviews! I hope you finish!
     
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