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Discussion of Buffy 10.22 "In Pieces on the Ground, Part II" - Released 12/23/15 (Dark Horse)

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Sineya
#1
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciller: Rebekah Isaacs

Willow’s loyalties to Buffy are questioned when she makes a decision behind the Slayer’s back... Are the besties growing apart? Also unknown to Buffy, Spike has a conversation with an old friend that leads him to question the patterns of his relationship with Buffy.

Source: Wikipedia
 
It's already avaiable (on cell phones, at least).

Dylan comes to San Francisco to thank Spike for having changed her life and apologises for how she treated him when they first met (she got really scared when he put his game face - Spike: Into the Light). After having found out about vampires and monsters on TV (watching Harmony), she decided to pursue her dream: to make a life as a painter. Spike right away tells her he is in a relationship, to what she answers:

You really think I'm so needy and sad I'd uproot my life just to chase a guy I knew for, like, two days?

Well, thing is that her whole talk seems to be targeted specifically to Spike. She admits she was willing, after all, to drop everything for a guy she barely knew, but then she realized that what she really wanted was a new life, a new job, a new city to live.

Grown adults don't put someone on a pedestal, make them some kind of romantic ideal, and decide they're the key to happiness in life. And once it hit me I was actually considering running off to chase some storybook notion of a prince charming, it wasn't a big leap to the truth.

Basically the same thing Harmony and Angel said before. Or Gage is repeating himself – and saying something I don't think it's true about Spike – or the Scoobies are really being spied on. It's like Angel's words were “stolen” by Harmony and Dylan, and hammed on Spike's head for some purpose.

The fact is that it seemed to work, a little, at least. Spike gets uncomfortable with the whole “how grown adults should behave” issue. Later, Spike and Buffy go to Dylan's first gallery show – and she asks Spike how good is his poetry nowadays. He answers he hasn't working on that anymore.

I think the pattern he may question in his relationship with Buffy it's not the relationship per se – we've seen in the mind walk that he loves her and is very happy – but that being with Buffy, loving her, fighting her fights, cannot be the only thing in his life.

Then we have Willow working with the military. Buffy gets very mad at her because she didn't tell anything about it for a week, and worse, she has already accepted to work with them. Buffy reminds Will about a Slayer who died in her arms in Tibet, killed by the military (and Angel, Buffy...), and Will angrily says she remembers well, but not everything is about her, which sends the Slayer out of the room, slamming the door shut.

And, I'm really suspicious about the “let's keep them apart” scheme that appears to be recurrent (Harmony, Vicky and maybe Dylan attacking the Buffy-Spike front): now it's time to work on Willow.

Lake Stevens, from the Department of Defense, is gay and she doesn't waste any time, hitting on Will while showing her the wonders of their working place and telling that her lover has left her; next, the two of them are in a fancy restaurant, and Stevens are saying that when people become adults, their priorities change and it's difficult to maintain the same friends from when you are young. She says that Willow didn't tell anything to Buffy because she knew wich would be her reaction, that there is a point in life that you have to choose between the life you have and the life you want.

Coming back from the gallery, Spike asks Buffy – who is upset by the whole thing with Willow – if the two of them (her and Will) having different convictions changes things between them, and suggests that Buffy should talk to her friend to sort things out – which she does.

Great issue.
 
Forgot to say: Spike does the dishes. And feeds the cats. He is totally housebroken. :D
 
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Sineya
#2
More toughts:

Spike is the "fool for love" one, who always has dedicated his life to the woman he loved (basically Dru and Buffy...), and I think he has always believed that his life would be complete and finished once he found love – and was loved back.

But, after the soul, things changed. Spike always liked our world, and now that he is living a more normal life I think - after the conversation with Dylan - he is starting to realize that he wants more of it, that love isn't the end of the line for him.

At the gallery, Dylan offers one of her paintings to the couple, and Spike chooses a beautiful outside scene, with a blue sky and white clouds floating around. Would it represent a desire to become human? And longing for more "human" things that fulfill a person? When Dylan asks if he has been working on his poetry, Spike gets a little uncomfortable, as we know he hasn't been dedicating himself to it anymore.

I don't think Spike's willing to pursue something for himself, something that he would want to accomplish for his own gratification (career, heroing, whatever) means that he has to break up with Buffy; however, I don't know which are the writer's intention for the character. If they want split the couple and give Spike some quest for him to go after (and maybe a title of his own...), he could end up “cookie-doughing” Buffy!

SPIKE TO BUFFY: Because—OK, I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming whoever the hell I want to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day I turn around and realize I'm ready. I'm cookies. And then, you know, I will be ready for you to eat— or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then... that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done.

So, maybe Dylan was brought to make Spike have an epiphany, and that's it - she's not part of any plan, she is the real deal - which was what I said weeks ago: the writer needed someoone that wasn't connected in any way with Buffy or the Scoobies, and chose Dylan for the job.

But I'm still suspicious of Lake Stevens.
 
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Black Thorn
#3
Great issue. My only big complaint is that Buffy's continued hostility against the military. Though Twilight is not her fault and Angel wasn't totally himself, the fact that it was Buffy who easily forgave Angel and herself but kept a lot of rage towards Twilight minions just feels wrong. The writer could totally find some other much more natural reasons instead of this "because you are the military I hate you" one.

It is the best issue since "Love Dares You, Part 1". It's better than "Freak Giles Day".

They finally get to write (or just confirm, anyway I'm happy) what Willow was thinking. The last time was "The Watcher (S9)" I guess. This issue re-examined the whole post-S6 super-passive more-butt-monkey-than-Xander Willow. Willow had nothing outside Buffy except magic. Now she finally has her agency. Please don't ruin this by declaring that "Willow is wrong, because reality proved again that she should continue to be a Scooby servant" in the next few issues.

Spike is much more interesting than, all earlier issues of S10. He actually talked with Buffy about something that is neither business nor how he felt about her. See this is what a real relationship is. I won't call the sex-and-moaning thing in S6/S7 a relationship really.

The way they choose to use Dylan exceeds my expectation a lot. There are no dramatic bullshit like AtS S3/4 or "feeling exposition ABC" like BtVS S7. The inner worlds of both Spike and Buffy are done very subtly. Rebekah Isaacs f**ked up with Willow in the first few pages but she did a very nice job later, especially on Spike's and Buffy's face expressions.

Small points:
  • The "Willow saving civilians" is a bit heavy-handed and we learnt nothing from that whole six panels but I won't nitpick too much.
  • I don't think Stevens is evil. I won't take her "relationship" with Willow seriously either.
  • Buffy continues to find porn(in this case naked people) uninteresting.
  • Buffy has stupid hair, really.
  • I sense it's finally building up something dangerous.
 
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Sineya
#4
Please don't ruin this by declaring that "Willow is wrong, because reality proved again that she should continue to be a Scooby servant" in the next few issues.
It's complicated - I think Willow has the right to go her way, to fulfill her ambitions as a profesional of magic and computing, but yeah, I got suspicious of Stevens and she is in charge of the whole operation, so... At the same time, I don't think the whole military can be evil - they are really doing a great job fighting the demons. And D'Hoffryn? Is he really helping them? Is he really helping the Scoobies? Anyway - when the portals are closed for good - Willow will be unemployed again.

See this is what a real relationship is. I won't call the sex-and-moaning thing in S6/S7 a relationship really.
A mature, adult relationship means work through problems and stay together, and not run at the sight of complications (and is what Buffy and Spike are doing). But the sex-and-moaning is an important part of it, too! :D

The "Willow saving civilians" is a bit heavy-handed and we learnt nothing from that whole six panels but I won't nitpick too much.
It's not just Spike that may feel that he needs something else to complete himself; Buffy at home watching others save the day pretty much made her feel a little useless.

On a different note, Spike should start writing lyrics for some rock band.

I don't think Stevens is evil. I won't take her "relationship" with Willow seriously either.
All Stevens said about old friends drifting away is true; and if she was talking as someone from the Department of Defense wanting Willow in their team, it would be OK. But on a date, with Willow's hands in hers, I think it was manipulative.
 
the fact that it was Buffy who easily forgave Angel and herself but kept a lot of rage towards Twilight minions just feels wrong.
It's a case of "out of sight, out of mind", or as we say here "
what eyes do not see the heart does not feel"; Buffy saw the army attacking and killing her sisters, but she didn't see Angel giving orders to them, or him leading Pearl and Nash kill Nadira's squad in the Azores.
 
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Black Thorn
#5
Anyway - when the portals are closed for good - Willow will be unemployed again.
I wish this is the beginning of a relatively independent Willow, not a "strayed and then came back" storyline.

It's not just Spike that may feel that he needs something else to complete himself; Buffy at home watching others save the day pretty much made her feel a little useless.
The whole problem is that they can use one panel with a TV screen to show all these. But they wasted two pages on an unimpressive fight and some unoriginal demons.

On a different note, Spike should start writing lyrics for some rock band.
No... It's like the Angel Investigations handling divorce cases.

All Stevens said about old friends drifting away is true; and if she was talking as someone from the Department of Defense wanting Willow in their team, it would be OK. But on a date, with Willow's hands in hers, I think it was manipulative.
I don't think being manipulative automatically leads to bad relationship. Kennedy was manipulative and I think Killow was an OK or even great relationship before Aluwyn. It's that Willow was only being polite not to say no and run away. Willow was not a little girl whose vulnerability can be easily exploited any more. She can always find a prostitute like what she did in S9 if she's really so desperate.

It's a case of "out of sight, out of mind", or as we say here "
what eyes do not see the heart does not feel"; Buffy saw the army attacking and killing her sisters, but she didn't see Angel giving orders to them, or him leading Pearl and Nash kill Nadira's squad in the Azores.
This is why I didn't say Buffy was totally wrong. It just feels wrong for me that Satsu, Willow, Xander and Spike all played along with her and didn't point out her bullshit, not even indirectly.

Anyway this issue is good. I was under the impression that Christos Gage hated Spike and didn't know what to do with Willow. Spike reached a brand new level of uselessness starting from his A&F S9 and Willow was swinging from over-the-top to pathetic. #22 begins to change my mind.
 
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Sineya
#6
I don't think being manipulative automatically leads to bad relationship. Kennedy was manipulative
Kennedy wasn't manipulative - she was straightforward, bold, and young. And a brat!

Willow was not a little girl whose vulnerability can be easily exploited any more.
Is what I would expect from her, and I hope she will be able to see if Lake is leading her or not.
 

thetopher

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Sineya
#7
Yeah, this was pretty good. The best issue for a good while apart from one major problem.

Things that were good:
Spike/Dylan was good, better than expected anyway. Since all she did was come to say thanks, tell him what he had meant to her and to (unintentionally) get Spike thinking about his own life. Not really interesting drama but unobjectionable I guess.
Still feels a bit ham-fisted (just not as ham-fisted as the previous issue).

Willow plot: I'm really just glad she got something to do finally. Getting recruited by the government made sense. Less keen on the Maria Hill knockoff- fairly bland military workoholic type

Escalation of the threat: Although there's been almost no built-up to all this 'world wide' threat nonsense (just the previous issue really) it was illustrated okay. Willow helping out the military was fine if a wee bit contrived.
At least we're getting something.

The only problem was Buffy herself.
Urgh, just...urgh what a horrible character she's become. Calling Satsu out for working for the military is one thing but Willow? Willow who, let us not forget, found all those other dead slayers whilst looking for Faith (the ones that weren't killed in Tibet but were hunted down elsewhere)? Willow who found the remains of Nadira's massacred slayer group and managed to magically nurse Nadira back from the brink of death? Willow who hasn't ever called Buffy out on the whole 'shagging Twilight' thing? Buffy is now going to lecture Willow on trusting the wrong people and morality.
Please. Willow should've said something to Buffy, or possibly turned her into a cruddy toad for a while. Massive, massive hypocrite. :mad:

And then Buffy ompounds it by getting on Spike's case about not immediatly being entirely upfront about Dylan and complaining that he's 'handling 'her. Becasue Buffy has never been overly sensitive in a relationship before, never, right?
(And, of course Spike ends up apologising for basically doing nothing wrong because hey, he's Spike and its Buffy we're talking about...)
When I'm seeing Spike's side more than Buffy's then it shows how far Buffy has fallen.

Like I said, good issue but least favourite character this season (in either comic) is Buffy herself by a good measure.
 
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Black Thorn
#8
An interesting issue. I think something is a little off with the dialogue but I can't quite put my finger on it. The way everyone is talking about adulthood as some mythical beast that has suddenly snuck up on the scoobies is just odd. They've been taking care of themselves for many years now and both Willow and Buffy have even had parental experience with Dawn. It's not like they've just left High School.

Leaving that aside I would agree with Spike when he says both Willow and Buffy have a point. So I'm surprised to see such strong criticism of Buffy. Willow's side is pretty straight forward to see. The world is in trouble and this new place has the resources to help. It makes perfect sense for Willow to want to protect people and save the world, she's been doing it long enough. I would also suggest that it's an ego boost for her. Big organisation wants to recruit her and she gets to show how great she is with both magic and technology. People like to be flattered and Willow has always worked hard to be great at things.

Now Buffy's take on this is more complex. First up she has already been in this position. Cast your mind back to The Initiative. Military operation, loads of money and accepting a gifted civilian into the fold. Sounds familiar to me. Within a couple of months they tried to kill Buffy. It's not too much of stretch to see why Buffy would be worried here. Then we have the fact the army hunted and killed slayers within the last few years. This included the hiring of Warren and Amy who tried to lobotomise Willow. Again alarm bells.

Next up we have Willow keeping quiet for a week because of "National Security". This is clearly bollocks. Since when does Willow care about that? She has hacked into all sorts of secured computer systems and no doubt broke plenty of Federal laws. How does one week make a difference anyway? What's the motive for the military to keep Buffy in the dark for a week? The Scoobies are stronger when they're straight with each other and Buffy has been working most of her life to preserve "Global Security". If the US Military are working for national interests in a time of global crisis and trying to keep Buffy uninformed then chances are they are up to something more than peace keeping.

Also lets all remember that the military exists for war and weapons. Even if the first couple of people Willow encounters are straight up chances are it won't be long before someone more sinister is revealed. With the sheer amount of power Willow has it will now doubt be tempting for someone to try to turn her into a weapon.
 

Buffy Summers

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Sineya
#9
I find it laughable that Willow says, "Because everything isn't about me." Meanwhile, Willow always acts like everything's about her, and this whole thing - not telling Buffy, working for the government - was TOTALLY all about her. If it wasn't, she would have told Buffy. This is all about Willow feeling big and important again.
 
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Sineya
#10
I find it laughable that Willow says, "Because everything isn't about me." Meanwhile, Willow always acts like everything's about her, and this whole thing - not telling Buffy, working for the government - was TOTALLY all about her. If it wasn't, she would have told Buffy. This is all about Willow feeling big and important again.
That's a good point. At first, she seems upset by "the government contracts meaning military". But after having a glimpse of the war room, and hear Lake's explanation, she almost immediately changes her mind.

I understand that Willow has the right to want for her bigger things - a career and all; it's about time, she's not a girl anymore. But due to the Scoobies experiences with the Initiative, and that this is a war that Buffy has something to say about (being the Slayer for so many years...), she should have thought of speaking with the Scoobies first.