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Discussion of Buffy 10.08 "Return to Sunnydale, Part I" - Released 10/22/14 (Dark Horse)

Buffy Summers

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A Halloween issue spectacular takes Buffy and crew back to Sunnydale as they follow the stolen Vampyr book, finding a massive magical party at the Hellmouth-and a demon devouring revelers!

Source: Wikipedia
 

Kaleidoscope

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I liked this issue quite a bit, especially the cliffhanger at the end which will actually make for an interesting story for Willow and for Andrew. As a jumping on point, it worked quite well, with the characters revisiting past transgressions and also showing how much they have changed for the better. It was less dredging up the past, more showing who these people are. I'm glad they seem to be addressing the 'raising from the dead' story, which was started off with Angel and Faith's raising of Giles last season - if Giles can be raised why not others ? You can see the crossovers coming, because this is being addressed on Angel and Faith's current season. I quite liked the monster's backstory - How he sees himself as a poor humble fisherman with his farmstead, lovely wife and children, nevermind all the people he was killing, who meant nothing to him. I liked the Corben art pages and the artwork in general.

I'm looking forward to the next issue, mostly for the Willow/Andrew story, but it feels nice to be looking forward.
 

AndrewCrossett

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It was a fun issue. But you know the boom is about to be lowered... no way is Joss gonna let everybody come back from the dead and be all happy together.

Willow is going to realize that bringing Tara back will be like bringing Buffy back in season 6... she was in heaven and happy and didn't want to come back. And Buffy was only in heaven for a few months, whereas Tara has been there for a few years. So if Tara does come back, I don't think it's going to be the joyful reunion we might have hoped for.

The monster's backstory was interesting. He supposedly sees himself as a regular guy with a family and a farm, no more evil than a hunter or fisherman or farmer... yet hunters and fishermen and farmers don't usually give themselves names like "The Slithering Doom" and hold conversations with the animals they kill.
 
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I found the entire issue to be very compelling! I enjoyed the little backstory about the monster, it provided a difference in perspective which I always enjoy.
Also, I am very curious as to whether Andrew will pull off resurrecting Tara or if Willow will intercept him and put a stop to it.. Or something completely different may happen.. Or maybe she won't try and stop him. There are so many possibilities for how this could play out.
 
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thetopher

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This was a good issue- lots of solid stuff.

An exposition-y first page, but at least it was cleverly written in Buffy-rant form. We get some nice character dynamic from the whole group as they interact- all in all its a solid jumping on point for new readers.

And...we're reminded, again, why the Scoobies shouldn't trust Andrew. Why do they keep him around again? He has no unique skills/talents that I can see, and he has no strong romantic or familial ties to anybody else in the group. It's not clear if any of them even like him that much. Maybe Dawn?
If a friend screws up- somebody you care about- then its more understandable to give them another chance and another (that's what the Scoobies tend to do to each other a lot- they have a bond forged in those first teenage years), but this is strike three for Andrew now- first the demon breeding in S8, then the Buffy-bot violation plot in 9. When do good intentions become just liabilities?

Rant over.

Mentions of Warren and Tara is nice foreshading not only of the ending here but of the stuff going on with Angel in London- possible crossover bait?

Sunnydale becoming a sort-of supernatural Mecca for the occult inclined is probably one of the most original ideas so far this season. :)

Splitting the characters up is a good idea- focussing on a smaller core group keeps the plotting tight and this issue benefits from it.
The demon pages were interesting enough, give the bad guy a bit of flavour in his background. The comedic look/appearance is nicely undercut by the casual killing- grusome.
Although one thing isn't exactly clear- the demon says 'I have expanded much soul energy to travel to this plane' which suggests he's come from some hell dimension or other. Did the slayer attack him there then? Do slayers travel and hunt in hell dimensions now?

So Andrew isn't trying to bring Warren back (good) but he's going to revive Jonathan (meh) and *SPOILER* a certain blonde witch...

Oh, dear- the boy means well but as usual has no friggin' clue what he's doing. Angel spent ages trying to resurect Giles, researching and then realising that because Giles' soul hadn't passed on, it could be done.
Best case here we get a cameo appearance from ghost-witch (that would be kinda nice to see- for Willow's sake), worse case something terrible and blasphemous is brought back.
Here's hoping Willow will keep her cool long enough to fix whatever he does.

The initial fight with the demon was cool. Except that Spike, who's carrying a sword, decides the best attack is to vamp bite (when did Spike or Angel ever do this as part of a fight? I kinda bugs me how often I'm seeing it in the comics now) rather than stab him. Fail.

Predictably there's been a lot of focus on the forums about the Spuffy talk in the caves, and actually with good reason. (Shocking I know, but I liked it)
It's a well-written scene and gives some much needed clarity to their situation. Some things become clearer. As a side note RI's facial expressions are very good here, especially with Spike.

Spike is...truly confusing. In fact I may start a thread because I can't figure out his moral compass at all. He's seemingly proud of 'goat boy knowing he was a famous vampire (and not so famous poet) but is also genuinly regretful of his treatment of Buffy while soulless. So, killing/being evil is okay but only if you don't know the victim?
This coupled with the whole of the Spike:ITL stuff (plus a lot of what Spike says in S7) and I honestly don't understand his thought processes.

Again, I'm struck by how forgiving Buffy can be when it suits her. Forgive Spike or Willow? Sure, no problem- within a month or so we'll be good. Forgive Giles or Faith? Maybe in a couple of years...

Oh and I couldn't resist: Buffy to Spike- 'I'm not excusing what you- what he did. But it shouldn't matter now. You're a totally different person. In a lot of ways.' Fair enough Buffy- name three ways in which he's 'totally different'. :p

Also some of this exchance by Buffy makes it clear that the two of them never slept (as in had wild monkey sex) together in S7. The way Buffy refers to 'sinking as low as she could' she wouldn't say that to Spike if she'd been at all intimate with him while he'd been soulless- it wouldn't make any narrative or character sense.

All in all though, a solid issue, with a nice cliffhanger set-up. :)
 

The Bronze

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Hmm lots of stuff going on here. First things first though. Hands up everyone who spat out there drink or threw there arms up in the air in outrage when Buffy brought Angel into a discussion about Spike and his soul! The ultimate Buffy Board faux pas :D.

I did enjoy that conversation between Buffy and Spike. I think it's a chat that's been long overdue. It was also nice that it confirmed pretty much everything that I already thought about there situation and how it makes perfect sense for Buffy to be able to separate Spike pre and post soul. It was also nice to see Buffy articulate how she was feeling at the time and why she couldn't turn to her friends. The only thing I would say is that I think she got a little more out of that relationship than just hurting herself and sinking as low as possible. Not much more and I always read the situation as desperate but there was a certain counselling / unloading element to the relationship as well.

The new demon was entertaining. As pointing out by @AndrewCrossett above he sees himself as a humble fisherman on one hand but as a super villain on the other. I think it worked well.

Has anyone noticed how similar Andrew and Angel are? Both easily led by the big bads (Warren/Whistler/The First). Both happy to make big decisions on behalf of everyone else without their consent (robot Buffy/IWRY/erasing entire teams memory). Then when the **** hits the fan have a bash at resurrecting the most prominent victims. Get Andrew a leather jacket and he could have his own series.

I did like the plot. It shows that Andrew hasn't just forgotten about the damage he caused and would like to make amends. Obviously he's making a mess of it but it shows there's something to his character. It also sets up the next issue quite nicely as a big moment for Willow. Hopefully she'll be able to show some maturity and deal with the situation in the right away. I'd point out though that there's very little chance that Tara is in the same place as Buffy was. No magic involved, so my guess is wherever she is it's elsewhere.

Again, I'm struck by how forgiving Buffy can be when it suits her. Forgive Spike or Willow? Sure, no problem- within a month or so we'll be good. Forgive Giles or Faith? Maybe in a couple of years...
Apples and Oranges here mate.

Spike - The explanation is right on the page of this comic. She won't hold a person with a soul accountable for actions committed while soulless. Forgiveness isn't even applicable.

Willow - Best friend of many years. Possibly the person she is closest to. Just important to remember for context. She lost her partner and then wanted revenge on those responsible. She made some awful decisions but the worst of them were influenced by dark magic and what Giles did to her. It was never personal and there were some extreme mitigating circumstances. Rightly or wrongly it's easy to see why Buffy is willing to forgive.

Giles - In Helpless Giles betrays Buffy in the worst way. He drugs her and leaves her for dead. Buffy sees Giles as a father figure though and forgives him almost instantly. It's a case of once bitten twice shy though. He abandons her when she needs him most in Season 6 and returns in Season 7 and attempts to kill her friend and ally behind her back.

Faith - Buffy has known Faith for all of a couple of months. They have a budding friendship but no genuine bond to speak of. Then Faith, while fully souled and under no magical influence, commits murder, rape & torture. She attempts to kill everyone in the town where Buffy lives. She also wages a personal vendetta against Buffy. Targets include both her best friends, her mum, her boyfriends and herself. That Buffy can even look at Faith again is a real show of how forgiving she can be.
 

thetopher

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Apples and Oranges here mate.

Spike - The explanation is right on the page of this comic. She won't hold a person with a soul accountable for actions committed while soulless. Forgiveness isn't even applicable.
But Buffy's trust in/towards Spike has always been muddled. In the latter parts of S5 and 6 she trusts him to protect Dawn, to help out, she considers him an ally- at least one of nessesity.
Then in S6 they enter into an abusive relationship, Buffy's feelings for him swich from hate to twisted affection and back- and then he tries to rape her. She stops him and he flees and because of this he goes and gets his soul.

And after he comes back in S7, he's mentally unstable, murderous (he kills a dozen or so people and turns them in some sort of fugue state) and unable to control his darker urges. This is when Buffy starts to trust Spike?
This isn't years that have past, this isn't 'I've changed and become a different person in my behaviour/outlook', it's simply blind trust because he has a soul now.

It's never been a clear cut case of 'he's good now and I can trust him' ecspecially since you've pointed out how Buffy has met plenty of people who happily do horrible things with a soul. One of them's her best friend.

I have big issues with the whole 'Spike is a completely different' person now, since I've never been able to see one single difference in the way he acts/talks/relates to other characters. There's just no evidence for it. He loves Buffy pre-and-post soul, he snarks with Xander pre-and-post soul.

Because of the poor writing Spike remains, in every way that matters, consistantly the same character he has been, except with his more extreme attributes toned down.
I still have a problem with the way Spike sees his pre-ensouled state as something to be proud a lot of the time, and ultimately he views himself more as sinned against that sinning.

Willow - Best friend of many years. Possibly the person she is closest to. Just important to remember for context. She lost her partner and then wanted revenge on those responsible. She made some awful decisions but the worst of them were influenced by dark magic and what Giles did to her. It was never personal and there were some extreme mitigating circumstances. Rightly or wrongly it's easy to see why Buffy is willing to forgive.
Willow (and it was Willow- high on dark magic and vengeance she had pretty much all her mosr unpleasent personality traits, plus tics) tried to destroy the world out of pure selfishness- because she couldn't live with the pain.
She also tried to murder Dawn, Giles (plus she tortures him) and Buffy herself in cold blood.
Three months and its all okay? Please.

Giles - In Helpless Giles betrays Buffy in the worst way. He drugs her and leaves her for dead. Buffy sees Giles as a father figure though and forgives him almost instantly. It's a case of once bitten twice shy though. He abandons her when she needs him most in Season 6 and returns in Season 7 and attempts to kill her friend and ally behind her back.
Giles was clearly torn in his Watcher duties in S3 (we know thet, barring a rebellious phase, this way of life has been part of his family and all that he's known since he was a young boy- he was groomed for it) in fact you could argue that Gilkes was programmed to a certain extent. Still, in the end he tells Bufyf the truth and saves her from a vampire attack. (Lots of people forget that last part, when he risked his life to save her)
From then on he has no obligation to Buffy, he's been fired, yet he remains part of her life in S3 and is crutial in supporting a lot of her decisions.

After that he's pretty much Buffy's rock in S5, helping her cope with the loss of her Mom, helping with Dawn. In S6 fans may hold a grudge for leaving Buffy, but by the end Buffy herself doesn't. 'You were right to go away.'- so I doubt that she is angry with him over that.

The 'trying to kill Spike' thing, yeah, that was wrong in Buffy's eyes, no question, but it doesn't even compare to the crimes of of Spike- while soulled, and Willow did.
It's mostly just plain hypocracy.

Faith - Buffy has known Faith for all of a couple of months. They have a budding friendship but no genuine bond to speak of. Then Faith, while fully souled and under no magical influence, commits murder, rape & torture. She attempts to kill everyone in the town where Buffy lives. She also wages a personal vendetta against Buffy. Targets include both her best friends, her mum, her boyfriends and herself. That Buffy can even look at Faith again is a real show of how forgiving she can be.
Genuine bond? How about being the Slayer, which is the big thing in Buffy's life that seperates her from everybody else except Faith.

Faith did all those things you said (apart from the rape but we've already argued about that) with full awareness and complicity- but a strong argument could be made for mental instability/trauma after the Finch incident.
Add to that an abusive childhood (hinted at but it's confirmed in the comics), that fact that she's a 16/17 yr old when the crimes took place, major trust issues with pretty much anything alive and the guiding evil paternal hand of the Mayor, these are all mitigating factors, they don't excuse everything she did, but they do put it in a moral context.

Faith, like Buffy, is also infested with demonic energy, part of the slayer package. They have the urge to kill in them right from when they're called, to some extent they get off on the violence- its in their nature to enjoy it. Buffy denies it but it's evident in her character from S2 onwards.
They are both touched by something darker, and without a balanced approach to slaying it can lead to unstable behaviour. Casual killing, emotional disassiciation, sleeping with skeevy vampires.
So it's not like Faith is completely untouched by 'magical influence', it's part of who she is. And from S4 onwards she's done nothing but tried to make amends for the things she's done. That's evident in her character and her behaviour, it's not just talk.

Plus Faith tried to kill Angel three times and their pretty close pals these days (ever since S7 anyway) and she tortured Wesley for hours and yet Wesley willingly worked with her when nessesary. She and dark Wesley even seemed chummy by the end of 'Orpheus'.

Or maybe that's just because Angel has had a more adult view of the concept of forgiveness, and the moral greyness that lots of these characters exist in.

The issue isn't whether Buffy should or shouldn't forgive these people. To forgive somebody is a noble act, just as trying to make penance for past misdeeds is also noble, but its hardly as clear cut as you laid out.
This isn't apples and oranges, more tangerines and satsuma's. :)

Some consistancy on Buffy's part would be nice.
 

AndrewCrossett

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Although one thing isn't exactly clear- the demon says 'I have expanded much soul energy to travel to this plane' which suggests he's come from some hell dimension or other. Did the slayer attack him there then? Do slayers travel and hunt in hell dimensions now?
It looks to me like the demon "fished" for humans by throwing his net through a portal into our world, then pulling back whatever he catches. The Nekkid Slayer just grabbed hold of the net and got a free trip into his world. She probably got home through the same portal.

I'm assuming this demon is an Old One. He used to hunt people in our world, then he retired to his hell dimension, and I assume during that time the Old Ones were banished from our dimension, meaning he couldn't easily return here. So he had to hunt by throwing a net through a portal instead of going through himself.

It may be that magical banishment didn't carry over to the new Seed, which is why he was able to come into our world now. If that's the case, we may be up to our butts in Old Ones pretty soon.

It's also possible the banishment works by forcing Old Ones to expend so much energy in getting here that they're virtually powerless by the time they arrive... which is why this one arrived looking like a pretty ridiculous man in a Cthulhu suit. But this particular demon gains energy from draining human souls, so he can buff himself up again. (He's already more like 30 feet tall by the time he attacks the Scoobies.)
 
thetopher
thetopher
That actually makes a lot of sense. Demon 'fishing' in our world- I must've missed the nuance.
Thanks! :)

gite63

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Spike is...truly confusing. In fact I may start a thread because I can't figure out his moral compass at all. He's seemingly proud of 'goat boy knowing he was a famous vampire (and not so famous poet) but is also genuinly regretful of his treatment of Buffy while soulless. So, killing/being evil is okay but only if you don't know the victim?
I believe the word "outstanding" used by the goat boy is more appropriate to poetry than murder. I think Spike thought he was referring to his poetry, because he called him William the Bloody and not Spike, and Spike is very pround of his bad poetry. Which made me think that the first time I read was the use of the word "outstanding".
 

thetopher

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I believe the word "outstanding" used by the goat boy is more appropriate to poetry than murder. I think Spike thought he was referring to his poetry, because he called him William the Bloody and not Spike, and Spike is very pround of his bad poetry. Which made me think that the first time I read was the use of the word "outstanding".
This is the bit of dialogue from the scene:

SPIKE (In vamp-face): 'HRAAA!'

Goat-boy (unafraid/impressed): 'Dude! Outstanding! William The Bloody.'

SPIKE: (looking pleased): 'Oh, you're heard of me?'

Goat-Boy: 'Of the murder. The poetry...Gak!'

Spike: (walking off angrily): 'You wouldn't know iambic pentameter if it bit you on the arse, you philistine!'


So given the context (Spike was all vamp-faced to a festive goer on the Hellmouth) it's obvious that goat-boy was refering to him being an actual famous, murderous vampire, not a forgotten poet.
Giles referred to Spike as 'William The Bloody' during his research in 'School Hard' and it never mentions the fact that William was a poet.

So it's fairly obvious that goat-boy thought he was meeting with a well-known vampire, Spike was pleased and then got upset when Goat-boy criticised his poetry.
 

gite63

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So it's fairly obvious that goat-boy thought he was meeting with a well-known vampire, Spike was pleased and then got upset when Goat-boy criticised his poetry.
Maybe, but the Goat-boy, seeing Spike's reaction, hurried to explain that he was talking about the murder, not the poetry, because he thought that Spike was thinking that Goat-boy liked the "outstanding" poetry...
 

thetopher

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Maybe, but the Goat-boy, seeing Spike's reaction, hurried to explain that he was talking about the murder, not the poetry, because he thought that Spike was thinking that Goat-boy liked the "outstanding" poetry...
This is a reach, since I don't get any sense of fear off the guy. He's a vampire/Hellmouth groupie, he's there for partying, magic and mosters so why would he 'hurriedly explain' anything to an honest-to-God vampire?

The simpler explanation (one that has canon examples to back it up) is that Spike is pleased that somebody has recognised him as the 'Big Bad' vampire of old.
 

gite63

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This is a reach, since I don't get any sense of fear off the guy. He's a vampire/Hellmouth groupie, he's there for partying, magic and mosters so why would he 'hurriedly explain' anything to an honest-to-God vampire?
Yeah, can be a reach. And not fear... I think more embarrassment that Spike or someone around them thought even for a second that he liked the bloody awful poetry...
 

thetopher

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Highly unlikely but whatever. Even so, why would Spike think that somebody was talking about his poetry in this context? William isn't a famous poet by any means (in fact it was a big deal when he went to all poetry slam in 'Not Fade Away') but he is a fairly well known vampire in certain circles.

I think it's obvious what Spike would think if somebody recognised him in this context (as in 'crowd of magic fanboys/girls). His obvious pride is the more troubling thing.
 

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So given the context (Spike was all vamp-faced to a festive goer on the Hellmouth) it's obvious that goat-boy was refering to him being an actual famous, murderous vampire, not a forgotten
So it's fairly obvious that goat-boy thought he was meeting with a well-known vampire, Spike was pleased and then got upset when Goat-boy criticised his poetry.
Maybe, but the Goat-boy, seeing Spike's reaction, hurried to explain that he was talking about the murder, not the poetry, because he thought that Spike was thinking that Goat-boy liked the "outstanding" poetry...
This is a reach, since I don't get any sense of fear off the guy. He's a vampire/Hellmouth groupie, he's there for partying, magic and monsters so why would he 'hurriedly explain' anything to an honest-to-God vampire?

The simpler explanation (one that has canon examples to back it up) is that Spike is pleased that somebody has recognized him as the 'Big Bad' vampire of old.
Yeah, can be a reach. And not fear... I think more embarrassment that Spike or someone around them thought even for a second that he liked the bloody awful poetry...
William isn't a famous poet by any means (in fact it was a big deal when he went to all poetry slam in 'Not Fade Away') but he is a fairly well known vampire in certain circles.

I think it's obvious what Spike would think if somebody recognized him in this context (as in 'crowd of magic fan boys/girls). His obvious pride is the more troubling thing.
Just an old memory from days gone by, but could Goat boy's recognition of Spike and knowledge of his poetry go back to the post ATF series in IDW Comics, where a movie was made about Angel, (as played by Nicholas Cage) and Spike (played by some rather full bodied blond woman)? Possibly some mention to Spike's poetry was mentioned in the movie?

I know that nothing beyond the ATF arc and the two "Spike" miniseries are considered canon from that publisher, but the movie occurs during the aftermath of LA being released from hell, and it does actually refer back to that arc, so it might be argued that it was, actually, a part of it.

I know, that's another stretch, but it would certainly explain the association with William and his awful poetry. (Somebody else will have to come up with an explanation of how Spike could have been recognized as the inspiration for a role played by a woman)
 

gite63

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Just an old memory from days gone by, but could Goat boy's recognition of Spike and knowledge of his poetry go back to the post ATF series in IDW Comics, where a movie was made about Angel, (as played by Nicholas Cage) and Spike (played by some rather full bodied blond woman)? Possibly some mention to Spike's poetry was mentioned in the movie?
How people know Spike used to write poetry? Does Buffy (and the Scoobies) know? Buffy quoted Cecily ("you are beneath me"), but how much of the flashbacks were part of the story told by Spike? I always thought that Spike wouldn't want anyone to know how he was back when he was alive. Angel said he liked Spike's poetry, how is that? William still wrote them after been turned??? And when did he stop? Giles had info about the vampire Spike, not about human William - the Bloody nickname was given to him because of his bloody awful poetry, not because he was a murderer... In the comics, Buffy doesn't ask Spike DID YOU USED TO WRITE POETRY?!!!! 
Even so, why would Spike think that somebody was talking about his poetry in this context? William isn't a famous poet by any means (in fact it was a big deal when he went to all poetry slam in 'Not Fade Away') but he is a fairly well known vampire in certain circles.

I think it's obvious what Spike would think if somebody recognised him in this context (as in 'crowd of magic fanboys/girls). His obvious pride is the more troubling thing.
I don't know, I just know that after I read it for the first time, I had the feeling that it was all a joke about the bloody awful poet, because it was a party afterall and because of the word "outstandig" (I know, it's silly). It was a panel that was supposed to be funny, even if about Spike being pround to be a famous vampire.
 

gite63

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Highly unlikely but whatever. Even so, why would Spike think that somebody was talking about his poetry in this context? William isn't a famous poet by any means (in fact it was a big deal when he went to all poetry slam in 'Not Fade Away') but he is a fairly well known vampire in certain circles.

I think it's obvious what Spike would think if somebody recognised him in this context (as in 'crowd of magic fanboys/girls). His obvious pride is the more troubling thing.
 

thetopher

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Ah, so it's just really bad writing that makes no sense to the characters involved. That fits with a lot of what we've been seeing the past few issues. ;)
 
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