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Discussion of Buffy 12.01 - Released 6/20/18 (Dark Horse)

Mrs Gordo

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I'm not going to mark this with spoilers because I'm pretty sure the issue is out everywhere now so here we go, here are my thoughts.

I think the biggest enemy, the enemy we all knew was going to be a problem this season, is time. We have SO much ground to cover and not enough time to do it. I think my biggest complaint about this issue is there is way too much going on, it is too jam-packed and fast-paced. I hope that alot of this is just the fact that there was need for exposition and set up and now that we are off on our adventure things will come at a decent pace but given what needs to be accomplished I think it will be a tough feat.

I haven't really been "happy" with the BTVS comics, well really ever, but I certainly haven't thought they were expertly written since some of s8. I went back to read some of s10 in anticipation of 12 coming out and I was reminded of the lack of dimensionality in much of the writing. I think Christos' best work was in Angel and Faith season 9. I am one of those rare creatures on this board that still really likes Joss (I am not talking about Joss as a person I am not here to get into that I'm just talking about his his skills as a writer) Even when I kick and scream and disagree with him on things coughSeason7coughTwilightcough I can see where he is coming from and I typically enjoy his story telling (no it's not perfect). I do see some Jossy things in this issue which I really enjoyed and those include:

(1) Call back to the TV show moments (lots of these actually).
(2) Buffy's talk with Willow (I want to talk a little more about this one later because I think this is the crux of this entire season) especially this sharp cut:
"I need to take some Buffy time, and it is nice to be able to do that, without relationship stuff complicating things"
(Door Bell = Angel)
(3) The switch about Buffy thinking she is taking the battle to Harth when in reality Harth had anticipated this move. I just find Harth such an interesting villain the likes of what we haven't seen since The Mayor or Angelus.

I enjoyed the plot development and I'm immediately excited about the future and how it will play out.

Here is what I didn't like:

The art was tough. I honestly didn't mind Jeanty in s8 so I'm not sure why I'm having trouble adjusting to him again. Maybe I got used to RI as well and her style is so clear. I am not sure what some of the facial expressions are trying to convey. For example in this panel:

NYiV6qB.png

What is going on with Buffy here? Is she jealous? Is she concerned about the scattered upon the temporal winds to exist forever in untold agony? Is she having a minor stroke? I... just don't know.

I like that Faith faces of against the Mayor but, hot damn, this should've been a whole issue in and of itself. This is a BFD for Faith and the fact that it comes and goes in just a few panels is unfortunate. I am also not sure about the dialogue here. That Faith, after all her time and self realization and journeys would say "You made me a murderer." Didn't ring true to me.

The Angel/Illyria stuff. Hmmm where have I seen this type of dynamic before?

tumblr_n68lmpN1vJ1s79vpoo1_400.gif


Illyria is offering Angel up to Buffy for hair products. I am not sure what I'm supposed to make of this supposed relationship. It's a mix between Illyria and Spike's dynamic in AtS s5/AtF and also a little bit Xander/Anyaish. Is it just sex? Angel seems mortified when Illyria talks about them being lovers. They do appear to have at least admiration and respect for each other given their interactions but I'm not thinking this is the new great love of Angel's life. And this leads me to a very important question.

WHERE THE F**K is Fred????? Again, too much to do too little time. We needed 8 issues AT LEAST.

Generally I think most of the writing/dialogue in this issue is no better or worse than s10/11. Again, I have low standards for the comics so this is not a vast improvement or a step back IMO.

On fandom reaction: What really irks me is this sentimentality that Buffy and Spike breaking up is some how a regression in Buffy's character. Buffy is NOT just Spike's girlfriend. Just like she is NOT just Angel's love etc. She is also a sister, slayer, now an aunt, friend, a 30 year old woman trying to figure out her life and her future and what she wants etc. If she and Spike have come to a decision about their relationship not working, that in and of itself, is not a regression of her character. It could even be perceived as growth and self-realization. And here is where I would like to talk a little more about Buffy and Willow's speech:

This is the best part of this issue for me because I think it sets out what we are going to accomplish this season and it's something I have always kind of wondered. Let's go back to the cookie speech (yes... let's do it.. come with me):

BUFFY Because—OK, I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I'm gonna turn out 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, if I want someone to eat— (eyes go wide as she catches herself) or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then...that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done.
ANGEL Any thoughts on who might enjoy— Do I have to go with the cookie analogy?
BUFFY I'm not really thinking that far ahead. That's kind of the point.

And to me it feels like all of the comics have been about Buffy making it through this and the next thing and the next thing. She wasn't really thinking that far ahead. Until things calmed down this past year and then she had to. It's kind of like going to high school, then college, then grad school. You are just thinking of being in the moment and making it from one assignment, test, presentation to the next and then you are done and you realize - oh crap now I have to figure out my life. What I want for my future. And that's when you really think about what and who fits that scenario. This seems like a logical progression for me in Buffy's story line.

Ys935i2.png

What Buffy is saying to Willow here isn't JUST about her friend's relationships. She is talking about how Dawn and Xander have a house and Willow has the Center and this has less to do with their romantic lives and more to do with their overall life choices. I kinda love this conversation because I just had a similar one with my little sister who graduated college. I told her, the secret to adulting is that we still don't have all of the answers. And that's kinda what Willow is saying. And Willow says Buffy is in a "good place" which also calls back to the resolution she had in s11 and what Christos said in his Q/A which was that Buffy getting to the point where she can love and be loved is a positive step in her life.

Who knows where the issues will lead. (It could all lead back to Spuffy.) Of course my dream come true is for Buffy to have some self actualization that would lead her to want to try her hand at a relationship with Angel but it doesn't look like I'm getting that either. But if this journey is going to be about Buffy, without A Vampire Boyfriend. I'm super here for that. I'm excited about where it could lead.

TL;DR: The issue was a bit rushed and crowded, but I saw some Jossy elements. I don't think a Spuffy break up is a bad writing decision. I'm interested in seeing what Buffy decides her future should be.
 

Grace

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Great analysis, @Mrs Gordo! I'm pressed for time this week, but I just read the issue again and it seems to me like you're spot on. I will quibble with one little thing though:

And Willow says Buffy is in a "good place" which also calls back to the resolution she had in s11 and what Christos said in his Q/A which was that Buffy getting to the point where she can love and be loved is a positive step in her life.

Willow says Buffy is in a good place to figure out what she wants, which to me is a little different than actually being in a good place, full stop. Buffy obviously seems kind of unhappy and uncertain, and it's telling that she still sees relationship stuff as a complication, despite her supposed healing in Season 11 (which I never really saw much evidence of, outside of the ILY, which was absurdly overdue by the time it came).

Also, the problem with the slayer depowering spell last season is now I'm like: Why doesn't Buffy just suck out everyone's power again to kill Harth & Co.? (I don't really want her to do that, I absolutely hated that element of Season 11, but they decided to open that can of worms...)

WHERE THE F**K is Fred?????

This really bothered me. It seems like over Angel Season 10 and 11, Fred became the predominant half of the duo (with Illyria coming out in times of trouble), so to have Fred gone the entire time is frustrating. Is this for the benefit of people who didn't read the Angel comics, so they don't have to get into the convoluted explanations?

Of course I had the thought reading the issue that the entire point of Angel Season 11 was to establish Illyria's time travel powers and the entire point of the Giles mini was to establish that Dawn could open portals to anywhere over the phone....:p
 

RomanticSoul

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You take everything literally.
Erm, duh.

The comment about 4 year olds was a figure of speech.
You attached age to me using the word meltdown. So basically acting like I was the one attaching age (in a degrading way) to such a thing, as if I think Spuffy fans are little kids. Trust me, even adults have meltdowns. Heck, I see people who have supposedly left this board months ago are back to distribute some likes for this very topic. Desperation maybe? Gotta stick together? Meltdown?

Though I kinda get where you're coming from calling it funny. I think it's pathetic. But so pathetic that if I was on your side of things I may find it kinda funny.
I do find it hilarious. And there are people who are melting down over this because they didn't get what they felt they were entitled to, according to them. I mean, what they were promised. Eh, same difference. Instead of waiting until this all over to pass judgement. I mean what makes anyone think this is even the Buffy-prime timeline? If time travel and alternate universes are involved, this could very well be any time-line except the main one. It would actually be very Joss-like to do that kind of switcheroo. So what happened to 'wait and see'? Instead it's 'wah Spuffy broke up after all this time spend on them in the comics, I won't be reading, wah I hate that they broke up off screen and I wasn't there, waaaaa....Spuffy, Spuffy, Spuffy'.
 

Mylie

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Just finished the issue and I actually enjoyed it?

Ok, there are some problems with the pace and the art isn't the best (though there are some panels that I actually like) but I thought the dialogues and the plot were good. I could tell Joss was involved.

Some thoughts :

I think at this point Buffy will always feel like this unless she gives up the slaying. It's kind of sad but I think it's what makes her feel like she isn't allowed to have a normal life. "It's a grey area and grey isn't my color". It seems she can't reconcile normal with slaying. Now if she loves slaying, then fine. But it seems to be a recurring thing for her to have this kind of identity crisis where she won't allow herself to fully embrace it. She still wants "normal".

I'm really glad Dawn gets to go on that trip and her keyness is used in this story. And I loved that Xander's plan involved Dawn saving their ass. I'm starting to really love this ship and I feel weird about it.

Angel looks better with his vamp face on than without it and that is not okay!!
 

The Ferg

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I'm in the middle of a S10 reread right now, I barely remember anything from S11, and I still haven't read A&FS10-11 yet, so this issue was kind of a shock to me.

Not gonna lie, I've never been a shipper before, but I was really coming around to Spuffy. Kind of sucks that Joss had to ruin another relationship of Buffy's so now she's stuck in the same old "omg, I'm so bad with boyfriends, maybe it's my fault" pattern. I really wanted Spuffy to be something that lasted...
 

Mrs Gordo

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Kind of sucks that Joss had to ruin another relationship of Buffy's so now she's stuck in the same old "omg, I'm so bad with boyfriends, maybe it's my fault" pattern. I

I really don’t get that vibe here she says they both mutually agreed it was the right thing. They are both on good terms and seem to be friends. Buffy is going through a personal “what is my life supposed to be” phase but I didn’t get the same vibe from her as for example season 5, where she says “I wasn’t there for Riley, not like I was for Angel.” She doesn’t seem to be blaming herself for her and Spike not working out. That’s a decision she is confident in. Her sadness to me is rooted in not having any direction when there isn’t a crisis brewing.

But I’ll agree that Joss has to break Buffy down, that’s what he does. He breaks his hero so that they can reach some sort of epiphany at the end of the story.
 

Fool for Buffy

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I do find it hilarious. And there are people who are melting down over this because they didn't get what they felt they were entitled to, according to them. I mean, what they were promised. Eh, same difference. Instead of waiting until this all over to pass judgement. I mean what makes anyone think this is even the Buffy-prime timeline? If time travel and alternate universes are involved, this could very well be any time-line except the main one. It would actually be very Joss-like to do that kind of switcheroo. So what happened to 'wait and see'? Instead it's 'wah Spuffy broke up after all this time spend on them in the comics, I won't be reading, wah I hate that they broke up off screen and I wasn't there, waaaaa....Spuffy, Spuffy, Spuffy'.
Who is melting down? Who is saying they were entitled to anything? In fact, you're talking about Spuffy more than anyone. Just because you're invested in a relationship doesn't mean you have to obsess over it.
 

Mrs Gordo

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Who is melting down? Who is saying they were entitled to anything?

No one here in this board for sure. But the internet is a great big world. I have read some of this on tumblr and other forums. “This is disrespectful.” “We deserve better.” “Now I am not going to read.” Etc. Fans of that relationship are extremely upset, in general, which is understandable.
 
Fool for Buffy
Fool for Buffy
Yeah that's fair. I did mean on this board specifically. But I'm not surprised elsewhere is more upset

Mrs Gordo

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Quiet nod at Jeanty at least giving us some Angel/Faith (Resemption Buddies) moments in illustration form.

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Also this is funny. I am a literal God and I have lived thousands of years but these two human girls with big guns scare me:

5jveOvn.png
 

thetopher

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Well, that was a comic that I read.

Uh, it was...okay? I mean, its better than the Buffy comics have been for a while to be sure- over the top of all of S10 or 11. The strongest element was the dialogue which felt truer to the show than its ever been since early S9.
I guess that's Joss' influence right there. The opening especially felt at least as fresh feeling as the first issue of BtVS S9. Basically I'd give the lines a B+ or something, even some of the bad guys got smile-worthy one-liners.

The artwork was...serviceable. You can tell who everyone is and where they are but reading expressions (except the extreme ones) is a waste of time. You mostly have to figure stuff out from what people are saying and that's it.

The problem for me was the plot, so much stuff crammed in to such a small space it felt too frenetic. Some parts were good and some parts were meh. I can't saying anything was awful, just could've been better.
Then again the plot moved very fast, so there might very well be enough room to let all the characters breathe and properly interact later on. I hope so.

- Xander and Dawn are a very cute couple with their domestic set-up. This is something the comics have actually done right throughout the seasons and I liked where they've ended up. So kudos for that.

- Buffy and Spike's (off-screen) breakup must've very recent, as must've Giles return to adult-ness. I guess it all happened 'at the end of the last season' or something.

To me the explanation that Buffy gives for the breakup felt...weak. In fact it would've been a whole lot better if they'd broken up at the end of S10. Why? Because at least back then it was a crisis of sorts that made them both question their relationship. But here, if what Buffy is saying is true, then Spuffy was never really anything, nor would it ever have been. There were no extenuating circumstances, not outside forces/pressures that led to a break-up like there was with Angel or Riley, it just ended.

Not only does that retroactively make Spike's journey in the Buffy comic almost entirely pointless, and consequently makes his character redundant, but doesn't it also nullify what was seen way back on the show? Would anything have come of them if Spike hadn't sacrificed himself? Apparently not since whenever there isn't a crisis they just don't work. Ever. That's the answer and its 'canon'.
For the sake of Spuffies maybe we'll get a deeper explanation...But maybe not since the only real obstacle this (rather stale) relationship has ever faced was Buffy's ambivalent feelings towards Spike.

- Angel and Illyria is weird, unbelievable and kinda icky. It will never stop being so. Angel just seems embarrassed by the whole situation. It goes without saying that the comics haven't treated him well and this is simply the latest example.

- Harth is a decent baddie- but then he always was- and he'll be the closest we'll ever get to The Lost Slayers 'King Of The Dead' I think. Basically he's just a vampire but he's very smart (and knowledgeable), smart enough to recruit big demon muscle be ahead of the good guys a lot of the time. A worthy adversary I feel.

- The plot: Baddies assemble, Angel gets word of it and the Good guys go to take them out. This doesn't go well and the good guys have to escape and re-group. Not awful but basic.

Faith's 'you made me a murderer!' line felt off, but in context she was being confronted by 'Snake-Mayor' (who's she's never actually seen before) and therefor emotional. She's already come to terms with what she did, and the Mayor's reply was at least more on the nose. In fact the snake-Mayor got some nice in-character dialogue I have to say.
Also the Mayor 'reconstituting' himself over time was actually a ret-con I liked (a bit) since it was a little strange how a 'true demon' was killed off so easily.


- The sole purpose of the Giles mini and Angel S11 is made clear as Illyria, Willow and Dawn combine powers to summon Captain Planet.
Actually it's to 'journey to the future' woooo! (important voice).

- The Fray-with-gun cliffhanger annoyed me a bit actually. Hope somebody punches her on the nose.

Tentatively looking forward to the next issue.
 

white avenger

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And since when are meltdowns limited to 4 year olds anyway?

Right. Just ask any Democrat since 2017.

(Sorry, I just HAD to say that)

As for the break up in question, we all knew that it was just a matter of time. Joss has to vent his frustrations over the poor reviews of "Justice League" somehow, and this seems to be his method of choice. If your fans disappoint you, disappoint your fans right back. Typical Whedonesque behavior.

Anyhow, I would really love to finally see a good, hot Spike/Faith hook up. THAT would jerk a knot in ol' Buffy's plow line!
 
The Ferg
The Ferg
I chuckled at that first sentence 😃

thetopher

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As for the break up in question, we all knew that it was just a matter of time.

It's not the break-up that's the problem (like you said its almost expected), its why it happened. The why is incredibly weak and invalidates everything that came before.

Anyhow, I would really love to finally see a good, hot Spike/Faith hook up. THAT would jerk a knot in ol' Buffy's plow line!

Bleugh, no thanks! :p (And top thinking for wanting Faith/Spike to happen simply to piss Buffy off)

Besides that's already been done; Spike tried to rebound with Faith after Buffy during A&F S9 and it didn't work. I don't see her going for it now after Spike's actually been in a proper relationship with Buffy this time. Faith would be wise to stay well clear, the two have nothing in common.
Eh, maybe he should try Harmony again.
 

Mylie

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To me the explanation that Buffy gives for the breakup felt...weak. In fact it would've been a whole lot better if they'd broken up at the end of S10. Why? Because at least back then it was a crisis of sorts that made them both question their relationship. But here, if what Buffy is saying is true, then Spuffy was never really anything, nor would it ever have been. There were no extenuating circumstances, not outside forces/pressures that led to a break-up like there was with Angel or Riley, it just ended.

Not only does that retroactively make Spike's journey in the Buffy comic almost entirely pointless, and consequently makes his character redundant, but doesn't it also nullify what was seen way back on the show? Would anything have come of them if Spike hadn't sacrificed himself? Apparently not since whenever there isn't a crisis they just don't work. Ever. That's the answer and its 'canon'.
For the sake of Spuffies maybe we'll get a deeper explanation...But maybe not since the only real obstacle this (rather stale) relationship has ever faced was Buffy's ambivalent feelings towards Spike.

I actually also want more explanation on this. I've had people convince me for a bit that it makes sense and I'm okay for a while, but I keep coming back to "it makes no sense to me!!". I think it's because we've never seen Buffy in this type of breakup situation before. It's usually because the guy is leaving or that one time she broke up with Spike because he had no soul. But it's weird to see her break up with someone when everything's working fine. I know this happens in real life as well but I'm missing elements to make sense of it. How did they both come to the conclusion that they weren't "working" when there was no crisis? Like... you don't just wake up one day and decide it's not working. There has to be something leading up to that. I doubt I'll get answers but I'd love to have some.
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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I am guessing Buffy and Spike will be back together by the end of the season with some epiphany about how there is always going to be a crisis. If the breakup was going to be permanent, they would have made more out of it. For a relationship as rocky as Spuffy, it is beyond anti-climactic, even if they have already been considerably more mellow in the comics.
 

RomanticSoul

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Like... you don't just wake up one day and decide it's not working. There has to be something leading up to that. I doubt I'll get answers but I'd love to have some.
I thought she loved him? Didn't last Season end with her saying 'I love you too.' and them looking over the sunset together (metaphorically)? How do you go from love to 'eh, it wasn't really love on either end so bye'. This is hilariously bad writing. Though it sure is funny. Incompetence always is.

Although the (maybe temporary) breakup doesn't shock me really. I've been saying this about Buffy and romance for almost 2 years now or longer. She can only have a drama and stress free relationship as long as there is action and drama in the slaying. If the slaying drama ever died down (due to lack of evil or because slayers aren't needed anymore), a drama free relationship would not work for her. And from all accounts of the people here who read the comics (Spuffies with shipper googles aside), Spuffy was pretty much smooth sailing to the point of being completely boring. Which is what Buffy needs and the only relationship she would want/desire as long as there is slaying drama. That's why Spike worked. He's her yes man, he doesn't have a mission that might be more important than her, he has nothing aside from his wish to be with the woman he's into, he wouldn't leave so she could find someone to actually have a future with, he's not a leader with his own morals and stuff so they won't clash there and so on.
 
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Mylie

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I thought she loved him? Didn't last Season end with her saying 'I love you too.' and them looking over the sunset together (metaphorically)? How do you go from love to 'eh, it wasn't really love on either end so bye'. This is hilariously bad writing. Though it sure is funny. Incompetence always is.

Yeah, that "I love you" makes it even more jarring in hindsight.
 

Mrs Gordo

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But maybe not since the only real obstacle this (rather stale) relationship has ever faced was Buffy's ambivalent feelings towards Spike.

You hit the nail on the head right here.

It’s interesting you bring up s10 as a good place to break up. Buffy acknowledges that Spike’s concerns are valid. No kids, no normal life eating together at restaurants, no going jogging in the sun. Buffy says she and Spike should confront their fears and she says it doesn’t mean they should get married but give it a shot. And then these issues: sun, kids, regular dates etc ARE NEVER addressed.

It’s like (this is a hypo) if me and a guy I had fallen in love but were at odds about having kids. He didn’t want kids and I did. And we are young enough that although I wanted kids eventually, I wasn’t at the point in my life where I wanted them at that moment. As years progress that difference in wanting kids would eventually become a problem. And eventually we would have to deal with the inevitability of what each of us wanted. Buffy and Spike never worried about the future. They never confronted these issues that CG brought up in 10. They just decided they weren’t going to let these issues make them “runaway” from what they wanted at that moment.

Anyway I get it, it’s not a lot of information to explain the split probably because CG has no time or maybe he is going to flesh it out later? And I understand the confusion of it all. But for a relationship that was pretty low fuss in the comics (which was wildly different from their dynamic on the show btw) an amicable friendly split with 0 angst fits the bill. Angst doesn’t fit Spike and Buffy in the comics. And anyway isn’t that always the argument against Bangel? ;)
 

thetopher

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How did they both come to the conclusion that they weren't "working" when there was no crisis? Like... you don't just wake up one day and decide it's not working. There has to be something leading up to that. I doubt I'll get answers but I'd love to have some.

Maybe you do if you come to the realization that never have and never will love the one you're with. Like Buffy had an off-screen epiphany or something.

Like I said I hope for the sake of Spuffies that there's something more too it, otherwise the entire relationship from its inception has been a waste with no payoff for Bufyf at all. And Spike has no character to speak of anymore...

It’s interesting you bring up s10 as a good place to break up. Buffy acknowledges that Spike’s concerns are valid. No kids, no normal life eating together at restaurants, no going jogging in the sun. Buffy says she and Spike should confront their fears and she says it doesn’t mean they should get married but give it a shot. And then these issues: sun, kids, regular dates etc ARE NEVER addressed.

Maybe because Buffy wasn't actually invested in the relationship so there was no urgency/need for her to address the issues.
But maybe things changed when she told Spike 'I love you.' It made the whole thing real for her but didn't change how she felt or would ever feel about Spike. That basically she would never love him despite maybe wanting to love him. She thought saying the works would magically make it true becasue why wouldn't it? After so long together.
And as the year rolled on with zero in the way of evil or slaying drama to distract her from the big, bad future coming her way she finally had to come to the realization that it would never work.
Somebody should write a little fan-fic about that, say set right at the end of S11...:D
 

white avenger

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It's not the break-up that's the problem (like you said its almost expected), its why it happened.

Primarily, I honestly believe that the major "why" is just because Joss came back, or, at least, took time from his otherwise busy schedule to toss a Baby Ruth (that's a reference to "Caddy Shack," in case you missed it) into the Spuffy swimming pool.

Of course, the issue of Buffy being single, and Angel being back, but with a new significant other, could lead to some interesting moments, especially if the moment of happiness clause is no longer an issue. ( I know, that hasn't been addressed, but you just know that it'll come up)
 
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