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Article Shameless Season 8 Apologism, part 1: Season 8 is essentially 'The Dark Knight'

Discussion in 'Season 8' started by Guy, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Guy

    Guy Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here's the thing: I freakin' love season 8. It definitely has its flaws, and I agree with at least SOME of the criticisms that people have against it... But I still love it like hell, flaws and all. And one of the reasons that I love it so much is that, more than any other season, season 8 is a story that you can spend countless hours just THINKING about, from tons of different angles. You can find countless parallels between it and other critically-acclaimed stories, and you can analyze it as a representation of many different philosophical ideas, and you can interpret it as a metaphor for tons of different relatable life experiences. And if you're anything like me, these things are incredibly fun for you to do.

    And that's exactly what I'm gonna do here, in the hope that it will, at least, make you view it as something a little more worthy and meaningful than the steaming pile of crap that it has the reputation of being.

    So, without further ado: Season 8 is 'The Dark Knight'!

    (Of course - complete, story-ruining spoilers for all of season 8 and 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' will follow)

    This shouldn't be too complicated to explain, I hope (Oh god, what have I gotten myself into... This will take AGES to write... *facepalm*).
    First of all, we must ask ourselves, what is 'The Dark Knight' actually ABOUT, underneath all of the cool action and pretty gadgets? Well, according to my interpretation, 'The Dark Knight' is about escalation, as Jim Gordon warns Batman in the end of the previous film, 'Batman Begins':

    In 'Batman Begins', Batman broke the rules and changed his world to make things better for everyone, with his idealistic heroism. Most people would obviously see that as an un-ambiguously good thing, and so do I, but the trouble is that good things can have all sorts of consequences... And when your good actions start to lead to bad consequences, what do you do? This question is how 'Batman Begins' ends, and 'The Dark Knight' is entirely dedicated to answering it. This question is what 'The Dark Knight' is about... And it is what season 8 is about, too.

    Like 'The Dark Knight', Season 8 comes after a classic coming-of-age story that ended in an idealistic revolution ('Batman Begins' = season 7. Or, rather, 'Batman Begins = seasons 1-7 of BtVS. The point is - Buffy's empowerment spell from 'Chosen' is equvalent to Bruce Wayne's decision to become the Batman), and like 'The Dark Knight', season 8 questions that idealistic revolution. Buffy's first words in season 8 are "The thing about changing the world - once you do it, the world's all different". At first, Buffy only knows that her revolution changed things a LOT. A lot more than she realized in 'Chosen'. But by issue 11, Buffy realizes that there is a problem:

    Where Batman was challenged by an increasingly desperate mob, that was willing to ally with an unpredictable wild card :)p) like the Joker to win, Buffy was challenged by a cavalcade of increasingly ambitious villains (Amy, Warren, Gigi, the Japanese vampires, etc...), who were willing to ally with an unpredictable wild card like Twilight to win. The heroes may have become nearly-unstoppable champions of good, but the villains changed along with them, and the fight became harder rather than easier.

    So, how do our idealistic heroes respond to this backlash against their heroism? At first - by escalating even more, and by questioning the limits that they still put on themselves. Batman concocts increasingly elaborate and immoral plans to catch the Joker (The machiavellian alliance with Gordon and Dent, kidnapping a businessman from china, torturing mobsters for information on the Joker. As the Joker says: "Even for a guy like me, that's cold"), and Buffy responds "okay" to humankind's declaration of war on her, and starts questioning the relevancy of her old "no killing humans, only killing monsters" rule. But, of course, sooner or later it becomes clear that further escalation is not going to solve the problem of escalation (Duh).

    The second option that Buffy and Batman attempt in their struggle is the opposite - leaving the fight altogether, in the hope that the other side would de-escalate the fight in response. Batman decides to lock his arsenal and turn himself in to the police, as the Joker demanded, while Buffy decides to lower the profile of the slayer army when vampires become popular, and tries to "give back" the powers of slayers in tibet. This option, too, fails - the Joker only ever cared about fighting the Batman, so he decides that he doesn't want him to turn himself in, while Twilight manages to locate the slayers and attacks them despite their powerless-ness.

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    Now, our heroes really start to feel the pain of their failures. Batman's inability to defeat the Joker leads to the death of his sorta-girlfriend, Rachel, and the severe injury of his ally and friend Harvey ("Gotham needs its true hero, and I let that murdering psychopath blow him half to hell"), while Buffy's army loses hundreds of slayers, and Oz's home is ruined, and Giles, Faith and Andrew are kidnapped, and Buffy is horrified by the knowledge that her new superpowers come from her slayers' death.

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    Driven by emotional pain and desperation, our heroes revert back to their first option - escalating the fight further... But this time, they do so with more ferocity and anger, and go much further than before. Batman is willing to spy on an entire city to capture the Joker, and Buffy is willing to use her new, dangerous, morally reprehensible superpowers to fight Twilight. The game is now fully on.

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    And appropriately, both stories go batshit crazy at this point. It's a bit harder to parallel the stories at this point, and it requires a little more stretching, but please bear with me:

    At this point, both fights turn into full-on philosophical debates on humanity - The Joker's plan attempts to push the people on the ferries to willingly choose to murder other people to save themselves, while the Twilight prophecy wants Buffy and Angel to willingly abandon the old doomed earth, in favor of a new one where they could be happy. Both stories solve this situation in a way that seems to reaffirm our heroes' faith in humanity - Buffy chooses to go back to earth and Angel agrees to go with her, while the people on both ferries choose to do nothing, thereby proving the Joker wrong. Humanity is not doomed, it seems, and the story ends in victory... And yet, the story doesn't end yet. Why? Because the original problem is still there - Batman is still Batman-ing, and Buffy's slayer army is still slaying. They are still holding on tight to their high ideals, the same ideals that started this whole escalation. The problem of escalation is not over, even if humanity has proven its worth. The portals that Twilight opened are bringing endless demons to earth, and Harvey Dent has seemingly gone mad with grief, making the Joker proud by going after Gordon's family.

    And this is where both 'The Dark Knight' and Season 8 both leave the territory of "3-acts-structure", "good triumphs over evil" stories, and become full-fledged horrifying tragedies with their final act - Batman's final confrontation with Harvey in the ruins of the building where Rachel died, and Buffy and Twilight's final battle over the seed in the ruins of Sunnydale.

    Harvey holds Gordon's child hostage as he seeks revenge for the crimes that were done to him, while Twilight tries to seize the seed of magic as it seeks revenge against Buffy who abandoned it in favor of earth. If I wanted to be more poetical here, I might say that the Joker and Batman were fighting over morality by fighting over Harvey's soul (Batman trying to redeem Harvey, while the Joker tries to damn him - despite the fact that the Joker isn't even there at that point!), while Buffy and Twilight were fighting over morality by fighting over the seed of magic (Buffy trying to save it so she could preserve her righteous revolution, while Twilght tries to seize it so it could push Buffy's revolution to its monstrous extreme - by bringing Twilight to earth, both literally and metaphorically).

    In the end, Buffy and Batman both choose the same option - Buffy chooses to destroy the seed rather than allow Twilight the oppurtunity to seize it (thereby ending her own righteous revolution, as well as Twilght's monstrous revolution), while Batman chooses to kill Harvey rather than allow Harvey's soul the opportunity to be completely corrupted by shooting Gordon's kid (thereby ending his own attempt to save Harvey's soul, as well as the Joker's attempt to damn it). As a result of that, Batman chooses to sacrifice his own reputation as a hero (The reputation that was his own attempt to inspire people, which was the entire point of his mission as the Batman) by taking the blame for Harvey's crims, while Buffy's destruction of the seed ensures that there will be no new slayers anymore, and that the slayer revolution will end. In essence, Buffy and Batman both chose to end the fight, so that neither good nor evil could win.

    And that's a choice with hard consquences - Buffy is now hated by most of the slayer army and the wiccans, and her friendships all become broken or fragile, while Batman is now slandered as a murderer and is hunted by the police. Buffy and Batman both embrace their darkness now - Batman killed Harvey and destroyed his own hope-giving reputation, and is now truly a dark knight, while Buffy destroyed her own revolution, and took power away from many good people who used to work with her and for her, including her friend Willow.

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    They both had to become darker heroes. In the beginning of the season, Buffy said in a dream that she's afraid of the dark outside, to which Xander replied "Buffy, you are the dark". In the last issue of the season, Buffy says that she feels like home outside, in the dark night. Buffy and Batman both finally accepted the true consequences of being a hero, with all the darkness and loneliness that it brings.

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    And the escalation that started both of these journeys was resolved - Buffy and Batman both ended it by ending their own revolution. They both realized that sometimes, our high ideals can't survive, and we must come back down to reality, and change to save what we can. They didn't break with their ideals like Harvey and Twilight, and instead learned to keep trying as hard as they can, even when the world doesn't allow their high heroic ideals to exist. As Buffy phrased it:

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    So, that's how I see it. Granted, there are also many significant differences between the two stories, and I'd agree if you said that season 8 is a lot more flawed than 'The Dark Knight'... But I also think that season 8 explores these themes a lot more deeply, and is definitely more clear and successful in its ending, IMO.

    At least, it makes sense in my own crazy head. I'd love to hear if it makes sense in yours, or if it doesn't.:)
     
    sosa lola: I love S8. And now I love it more.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  2. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    Vampires are purple now? Also the SMG Buffy cover looks awesome, why can't they draw the actual comics in that style?

    Interesting comparison.
     
    Guy likes this.
  3. white avenger

    white avenger white avenger

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    It's my understanding that comic book cover art is the equivalent of a portrait, involving a considerable amount of time and attention to detail. The interior art is more like artists' sketches by comparison, done in larger quantity over a much shorter time period, with much less attention to small details.
     
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  4. thetopher

    thetopher Member of the Church Of Faith

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    Sineya
    I never ever thought that Batman thought about the Joker like that... ;)

    Otherwise, I'd have to read/watch both materials again to comment.

    Although imo what works for Batman doesn't translate well to other characters at all *looks sideways at 'Man Of Steel'.*
    I think after S8 that Buffy lost something fundamental to her character; more than she did at the end of S2 or in S6 or even S7. I think she lost something she can never get back.
     
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  5. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    Yes. I think she lost her leadership. The failed roleplay as a general severely destroyed her confidence of leading. She retreated back, licked her wounds, became a waitress and then a vampire staker, but never came back and practice her role as the slayer.

    BTW I dislike The Dark Knight. I get what it wanted to say but I think the presentation/execution missed a lot of points. I think S8 1-19 is better actually.
     
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  6. thetopher

    thetopher Member of the Church Of Faith

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    Sineya
    That's part of it, also her sense of morality to a certain extent- NOT feeling bad about her Twi-shagging shenanigans but feeling bad about Giles (wtf?).
    And also perhaps her relevance. Once she stopped being the leader of an army of slayers she stopped really mattering.
    All the comic-based apocalypses have been as a result of things- more or less- that Buffy put in motion.
     
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  7. Buffy Summers

    Buffy Summers Yataro Staff Member

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    Sineya
    I love that you put this together, Guy :) Great job!

    I think Buffy parallels Batman the character in general very well. You could say that both (and Buffy especially in Season 8) feel at once very lonely being the leader at the top, and also like everyone they allow to get close to them gets hurt, so they end up pushing people away.
     
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  8. Bluebird

    Bluebird two by two, hands of blue

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    Black Thorn
    I very much admire your passion for season 8 even if I don't share it myself. :D
     
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  9. Guy

    Guy Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    Nah, it's just the "lighting".

    Well...

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    You're welcome.

    You should, it's a great reread.:)

    While I also despise 'Man of Steel' (a LOT), I don't think that the problem there was Batmanizing Superman. A Batmanized Superman CAN work, I think. The Batmanized Superman was a problem in 'Batman v Superman', for obvious reasons, but in 'Man of Steel' the real problem was just that the execution was terrible. 'Man of Steel' looked great in the trailers, and theoretically, I think it COULD have been a great film. The basic idea could have worked, but the writing and direction just botched the whole thing.

    Well... Yes, she did. She lost even more of her innocence. That's incredibly painful to watch, but I wouldn't ever change that about the story. Buffy's story is, essentially, ALL ABOUT the loss of innocence - that's what I loved so much about episodes like 'Prophecy Girl', and 'Innocence', and 'Becoming', and 'Helpless', and 'Fool for Love', and 'The Body', and 'The Gift', and 'Bargaining', and 'Once More With Feeling', and 'Dead Things', and 'Selfless', and 'Lies my Parents Told Me', and so many others... Season 8 only made me love Buffy more.

    But if what you meant is that Buffy lost something AFTER season 8, then I think you're talking about Buffy's loss of Whedon. After season 8 (which was BY FAR the most Whedon-y season of BtVS ever. Joss personally wrote over 40% of the season, whereas he only ever wrote 20% of any other season at MOST), Joss never really got directly involved in the comics again. The last issue he wrote was issue #1 of season 9 - which was like 4-5 years ago! Whedon's involvement in the writing got a lot smaller after season 8, and I think you can feel it in the story.

    Well, season 9 was all about Buffy questioning her slayer-ness after season 8, but at the end of it she reaffirms her role as the slayer, and in season 10 she doesn't back away from it. She still has doubts, sure, but no more than she had in seasons 1-7.

    Well, I love both, personally. :)

    But yeah, the first half of season 8 is definitely more refined than the second half.

    Hmmm. Well:

    1) Buffy shouldn't feel bad about shagging Twangel because she didn't really choose it. She was sorta mind controlled at the time. There was that whole thing with the glow. (and she STILL feels guilty about it. She just doesn't let it cripple her like in the past).
    And of COURSE she'd feel bad about Giles. Why wouldn't she? Her father figure died in a battle that she commanded (and this time she wasn't mind-controlled), so of course she'd feel responsible.

    2) I don't see how Buffy stopped mattering. In season 9 she saved the world as usual, and in season 10 she wrote the actual rules of magic!

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    I actually always thought that Buffy paralleled Spiderman much more in the TV show (and yeah, he also has those same themes of loneliness and responsibility), at least in the early years, but in the comics she got more Batman-y. Especially in seasons 8 & 9.

    Although I guess most heroes are really quite similiar...

    Huh. Now that I think about it, I think that Buffy started getting more Batman-y in season 5, right when her mom started getting ill and then died... Which is really logical, considering Batman's origin story.

    Ooooh, does that mean that Spike is Catwoman? Or maybe Faith is Catwoman? Xander and Willow are clearly Robin and Batgirl. Or maybe Robin is Dawn? I need to think about this more thoroughly...

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    thetopher: Good God, that Batman/Joker pic...The net is dark and full of slash fic. :) For the record I like a lot of S8- the best comics season by far.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
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  10. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

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    I actually love S8 the most out of the comic seasons. I do have problems with it, the biggest one the Twilight reveal and what came after that, but the build up in the first twenty issues was amazing: the new directions the writers took with the characters, the risks, the dialogue... all and all it was a very different season than anyone thought. I loved the Scoobies isolating themselves in a castle, I loved the Giles/Faith friendship, I loved the Xander/Dracula storyline, I LOVED Buffy stealing and Willow being disappointed, I loved the panels with Renee's death, I loved Buffy/Satsu, A Beautiful Sunset is a wonderful issue, I loved the Tokyo vampires .... atc.

    I have to stop of this post would not have ended. :)
     
    Guy: The Twilight reveal BLEW MY MIND, actually, and in the best way possible... But yeah, there were some problems there. And yeah, the first half of the season was just incredible!
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  11. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    1. If Buffy slept with Twangel, shouldn't he be Twangelus because of what happened last time he slept with Buffy?

    2. If Buffy was mind controlled when she slept with Twangel, doesn't that mean she was date raped?

    3. How much Angel is in Twangel because seriously, if he did that to Buffy, that's a dick move?
     
  12. Guy

    Guy Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    Season 8 has its own rules, my friend.:cool: That's kinda the point.

    You could make that argument... But then again, Buffy and Angel were BOTH sorta mind-controlled, so... Is it like when two drunk people have sex? Or is it like when two people are roofied by a third person into having sex with each other? I don't know. It's weird. I actually like that issue a lot, but I'll never try to defend it as an example of great storytelling... I mostly just love it because it's so over-the-top.

    As I said, Angel was also sorta mind-controlled, so it's different... Then again, he was mind-controlled as a consequence of decisions that he made of his own free will, so... Angel messed up, but not THAT kind of messed up.

    But honestly, season 8 is really not a great story for you if Angel is your favorite character. He's pretty much just a supporting player for Buffy's story. Fortunately for me, Angel was never one of my favorites, so...
     
  13. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    If they're both mind controlled then they can get away with it on their parts and would explain why Angel didn't turn back to Angelus.

    Is Twilight, who I assume is the thing controlling Angel, a secret Bangel shipper?
     
  14. Guy

    Guy Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    Well, they weren't COMPLETELY mind controlled. As I said, they were "sorta" mind-controlled. It's like the mind-control was mostly just about removing their inhibitions, kinda like when Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk... Make of that what you will.

    Heh, that description is surprisingly, hilariously accurate. But really - JUST READ SEASON 8! You should draw your own conclusions about the story.
     
  15. Mylie

    Mylie Scooby

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    @Guy Thank you for linking me to this thread. I really enjoyed reading the parallels between Buffy and Batman. It does make me want to read season 8 a 2nd time. Maybe I'll enjoy it more now that I know what happens and I'll be able to concentrate more on the good.

    It's definitely interesting that her story has so many parallels to a character like Batman who is probably the last superhero I would have associated Buffy with. It's usually more Angel's thing. And her last quote being a quote I associate so much with Angel also confused me when I read it. Maybe there's something there?