Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Last Gleaming: Part 5

Well kids, the time has come.  Buffy Season 8, the grand experiment, is over.  I am sure that at this very moment, many other people are writing their own blogs about this exact topic, and I am eager to add my voice to the fire.

Obviously, massive spoilers for the entirety of season 8 follow.

This has been quite a long ride.  It's hard to believe how long ago this series started.  Buffy has always had a profound effect on me, and is one of the greatest influences in my life.  The comic, for all of its flaws, is no different.  It's hard to believe, but this series began when I was a freshman in high school.  In the four years that it has run, I have changed immensely.  I've experienced alienation, happiness, loss, love, and pain.  In many ways, so has Buffy.  Just like us all, she has had her rough patches.  A cynical person might say that Season 8 was ALL rough patch.   But I think it was more like an experiment.  Like all experiments, we didn't really know what the end result was going to be, and maybe what came out of it isn't at all what we were expecting.  And I'm ultimately glad that it happened.

I will be writing more on Season 8 as a whole soon, but right now I want to focus on the final issue.  This will probably be pretty freeform, as I am mostly just writing my thoughts about the issue and don't really have a thesis in mind.

This issue was brilliant.  It was penned completely by Joss, and his voice shines through, as do the voices of all the characters.  Throughout the story, I easily heard the voices of the characters in my head, a phenomenon that I have only experienced occasionally during season 8.

This issue was basically an exploration of consequences.  A lot has happened in the world since Buffy and Willow did their empowering spell.  It seems like everything is completely different.  Is it, though?

Buffy's internal monologue at the end reveals a lot about what I think the entire comic series has been all about.  It is so important, in fact, that I am going to quote it in full.

The trouble with changing the world is... you don't.  Not all at once.  You just inch it forward , a bit at a time, and watch it slip back, like the greek guy with the rock.  And you hope that when you're done, you've moved it up a little.  Changed it just enough.  You hope.  Let's go to work.
Buffy is right back where she started.  Even though she empowered so many girls, she still ended up alone.  I would suggest that she was even alone when she was commanding the entire slayer army.  No matter what she does, Buffy seems to always find herself alone.  But that doesn't mean she should stop hoping.  There is always something to fight against: something to stand up to.  It's no coincidence that BS8 ends with the same line AtS did.  Maybe we can't change the world.  But we can keep trying.  And maybe that's what matters.

As far as the rest of the issue goes, I thought it was very well done.  It seemed as though almost every major character got a moment, which was nice.  Like Buffy, I was surprised to feel sorry for Kennedy.  (Although I'm afraid I'm going to have to criticize Jeanty's artwork.  The scene was really killed because it took me so long to realize that that was Kennedy.)

Willow's pain is interesting, and a lot more nuanced than I was expecting.  It's almost like Joss read my mind, because Buffy seems to be of the same opinion I was: that Willow is just upset because she is a magic junkie. Willow's speech makes it evident that it's a lot more interesting than that.

The world is less.  It doesn't even know it yet, but it's lost its heart.

Willow cares about something a lot more transcendent and interesting than just the fact that she doesn't get to play with magic anymore.  While I still kind of fail to care about Saga Vasuki, not really knowing the character, I am sympathetic toward's Willow's story here.  I'm looking forward to reading more about her in Season 9.

Xander and Dawn seem to be the only people to get a truly happy ending, and I'm surprisingly happy with it.  If you had told me four years ago that they would get together, I would have probably reacted with some level of vomiting.  But, while it is still a bit strange, I also really do enjoy them together.  They have great chemistry.

Angel doesn't get a whole lot of time here, but I'm okay with that because what we did get from him was great.  His flashback line kind of broke my heart.

Buffy... what happened?  Did we win?
Poor guy.  Always getting manipulated by something.  Not that he is absolved of responsibility.  The actions of Twilight are just as much his fault as the universe's, I think, but I still can't help but feel bad for the guy.  While Angel being manipulated by higher powers isn't actually a new idea, and I wish that for once he could just be a free agent, I will be alright with it if this means they take his character to new and interesting places.

One of my favorite scenes in the issue was the conversation between Buffy and Faith.  The panel when Buffy hears that Giles left Faith everything was especially terrific.  Of course Giles left Faith everything.  She needed it more.  But Giles did leave Buffy one thing: the Vampyr book, a symbol that she is still the slayer and still a hero; something she accepts at the end of the issue.  I also really like that Faith will be helping Angel deal with what he's done.  A nice inversion of their previous relationship.

The Spike/Buffy scene was nice.  I really felt all of their history together in those panels, but it was also clear that their relationship is now something new.  As always, Spike stands up for Buffy and reminds her that sometimes being the hero involves making hard calls and that she is no less for it.

All in all, I really enjoyed the issue.  Of course, if the rest of the season had been this good, I would be very happy, but as it is, this was a closer to a troubled season.  I will probably be doing a full season retrospective sometime soon.  For now, I will only say that I am excited for Season 9.

Closing thoughts:

  • I love that Buffy is wearing Eeyore pajamas.
  • Again, that panel with Buffy crying is TERRIFIC.
  • I also enjoy the panel of Angel looking very catatonic.
  • Dawn making fake sex noises to freak Buffy out was absolutely hilarious.
  • "Feels like home."  Very arc-words.  Considering Buffy started the season just wanting to go home.
  • Those poor Non-Slayers at the end.  Thinking they could take on Buffy.
  • I love the two references to Harmony being on Dancing With The Stars.
  • I love that it ends on the classic "Buffy saving girl from vampire."  No matter what happens or how down she gets, Buffy is always the hero.

3 comments:

  1. I would love to find out just HOW Giles left anything to Faith. Isn't she still a wanted fugitive? It's great from a character perspective, but the legalities confound me.

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  2. Technically Faith is the Slayer, and Buffy was his Slayer. So all in all Faith does deserve it more and the Vampyr book was the first thing that Giles ever gave Buffy.

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  3. Interesting. Never really considered that. It would be interesting to find out exactly what Faith's current legal status is.

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