Friday, June 29, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x03: "The Long Way Home Part 3"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Dawn: “We totally have to talk. Are you evil again?”
Willow (re Amy): “It’ll fade. She just really pissed me off.”

Opening things up after the previous issue’s cliff-hanger, the mystery older man who called Buffy “My Love” turns out to be Ethan Rayne. Unlike someone else later on in the mix, Ethan’s return in a welcome addition to this interesting four part arc.

Getting over the My Love spiel, which makes Buffy want to projectile vomit when she point blank informs him that he takes up none of her subconscious; their reunion has Ethan explaining the nature of a Dream Space to which Buffy suddenly has a very legitimate reason to get embarrassed over.

Not only do we get to see a graphic sexual fantasy in which a naked duo of Angel and Spike are caressing Buffy in a nurse uniform while the three of them are all chained together and we have Cupid’s hovering over them along with a train going into a tunnel as well as stakes and orchids in the background.

This is probably the only thing that Joss has conveyed on comic form so far that would’ve posed some difficulties if the show was still on the airwaves and it’s the most surreal image ever seen. In fact it might be the very thing you’ll remember about this entire issue on a superficial level as well.

It was only a matter of time before either Angel or Spike were going to factor into the mix so instead of actually bogging the story by reintroducing them in the flesh, Buffy’s little sexual fantasy not only reinforces the sexual hold both vampires have on her but it also further highlights her glowing lack of a sex life too.

Suffice to say, Ethan probably took a little pleasure in seeing Buffy having to squirm but for some reason he seems to have hitched a ride into her subconscious to help he rather than kill her. Maybe being locked up since “A New Man” has changed, then again more likely Ethan is up to something and he’s quick to warn Buffy that things are going outside.

If there’s something these first two issues lacked, it was a certain Wicca in the mix and the return of Willow in the last issue is put to excellent use here as not only has her reappearance wiped the smirk of Amy’s smug face but it doesn’t take long for the girls to renew their rivalry in glorious style.

By that I mean they take to the sky above the castle and begin a magical duel that’s probably straight out of Harry Potter to a degree. For those of you who like their Foe Yay, Willow and Amy seem determined to provide it in spades.

Although Willow is probably still the most powerful one of the two, Amy is quick to taunt her about trying to destroy the world and now only producing weak craft as she seemed to be successful in deflecting Willow’s blows. Then again, Amy was never the most attentive of people as Willow soon reveals that she’s only absorbing her Mojo to decode it. Not entirely sure why Willow is doing that unless she’s planning to use Amy’s own magic against her, which would be sweet.

Anyways minor distractions such as Xander praising Willow to some slayers as the rest of them defend the castle from the undead are fine but it’s the light show and army being apparent distractions that begin to see the Willow/Amy thing escalate into a bit of a pissing contest between.

So far the light show hasn’t killed either witch but there have been slayers getting the living daylights beaten out of them by the living dead, which proves that at least one distraction is effective. It’s looking that in her quest for power/revenge, Amy really doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process.

So it’s three cheers when her overconfidence is then punished by Xander commanding Dawn to literally step on Amy long for Willow to knock her out and freeze her. I’m surprised with her size; Dawn wasn’t able to crush Amy despite her good timing.

Dawn’s brief exchange with Willow is humorous, despite voicing concerns about Willow’s magic. Willow was furious with Amy and Dawn was savvy enough to pick up on it, however it doesn’t seem like we have to worry about Willow losing herself just yet.

Meanwhile in the land of nod, Buffy seems to be in classic denial when Ethan warns her of potential and for the loyal viewers you can spot the various moments of the previous seven seasons while Ethan draws Buffy closer to his desired location.

I was kind of hoping Ethan’s place would be Hellmouth related but it’s more to do with Amy’s cage which both Ethan and Buffy get to see from a rat size perspective. There’s a thing about Roman symbolism and it’s interesting to know that Ethan wasn’t aware of Amy’s magical havoc. Perhaps he really is out to help the Scoobies though I’m more interested to see how it would benefit him.

When Ethan isn’t providing Buffy with cryptic clues in her dream space, the Scoobies are trying to find a way to get Buffy to wake up but whatever else Amy may lie about, she wasn’t kidding when she said it required the kiss from someone who is in love with Miss Summer. Heck, even Willow has to point out to Xander and Dawn that her magic is useless against this spell.

So someone is in love with Buffy and they might not subconsciously know it? Well whoever the culprit, they realise it quick enough to actually do the deed and succeed in waking Buffy from her involuntary slumber.

With there only be Xander, Willow and a few slayers in the room, it’s largely implied that it’s Xander who successfully brought Buffy back to being awake. However just because Xander is the only male there, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s him who did it even if Buffy did dream about him in the previous issue.

While I seriously doubt that Willow has suddenly developed feelings for her, there is the question of the handful of slayers in that room there too including Leah, Rowena and Satsu. It’s likely it could be the latter given the sort of rapport her and Buffy seem to have developed.

Perhaps Satsu has a thing for Buffy. Is it likely that Buffy would reciprocate? If we’re gonna get girl-on-girl stuff, I’d prefer to be Willow and a resurrected Tara but it’s too early to tell about anything. Buffy hasn’t shown any interest in women before and little is known about Satsu to determine her sexual leanings yet.

Elsewhere when I’m not guessing sexuality or enjoying Foe Yay action (though Willow/Amy have nothing on The Doctor/The Master in Doctor Who), there’s the matter about that lizard demon’s death from Issue 1. Apparently some of those fights had been engineered and further information in regards to the Twilight symbol is scuppered. Still though it’s nice to see Giles but I wish to God he was given more to do as his appearance only amounts to a page here.

Also the eternally annoying Andrew is on the phone to Xander and more or less telling him nothing of any real help. In fact, there are two things about Andrew’s appearance that are noteworthy – there’s no geek referencing (from him at least) and Andrew seemed to be oblivious to the strip poker session with his batch of slayers in Italy. Now this is the kind of Andrew I can handle.

Speaking of handle, do I detect a little bit of flirtation between Xander and Renee? In the first two issues it looked a little one sided but here when he’s trying to cheer up a demoralised Renee (who blames herself from the not entirely successful fight with the undead), he gives off the impression of being a little more interested in the girl, especially with the butch. I like Renee and perhaps Xander could date her. It’d be a bit more plausible than Buffy.

As Willow her awesomeness is highlighted when she quickly discovers that Amy’s magic is mixed with technology and is also quick to tell Buffy that her and Kennedy broke up. Thousands of Willow/Tara shippers will cheer at that particular and it also might give the indication that Joss Whedon could either want to bring Tara back or just not feature Kennedy at all in this eighth season.

I don’t particularly hate Kennedy but from the word go, I just knew her and Willow wouldn’t last in the same way that we all knew that Buffy and Riley wouldn’t either. To Iyari Limon, it might feel like a slap in the face that even in comic book form, Kennedy is royally shafted. For that I pity her!

However the best thing about this entire comic is the scene between Buffy, Xander and Willow all reminiscing and discussing their lack of love lives. I have to admit nostalgically, it feels like the first half of Season One when all three of them were single and people/demons like Cordy, Oz, Angel, Riley, Spike, Tara, Kennedy and Anya didn’t play such major parts in the sexuality and teen/adult relationships. The only thing missing from that scene was of course Giles. It bugs me how he’s not in the same vicinity as Buffy, Willow and Xander.

Of course when things get a bit cute, there has to be something to spoil it and of course when Willow finally gets a reaction from Amy, it’s soon apparent that Amy’s magic does have technology on her side. This should be the gang’s first hint that Amy and General Voll are on the same team.

It also should’ve been a massive hint for Willow that her best enemy had managed to spring a trap as soon enough both Amy and Willow slip through a portal with a pissed off and confused Buffy and Xander to realise they’ve been played again. In a weird way, hats off to Amy who might as well savour her victory moments for the time being.

As for Willow – what’s worse than being tied to an operating table and having the woman who tried to make you off the deep end bait you about falling for a simple rope a dope stunt she pulled? I tell you – it’s learning that her disfigured boyfriend is none other than a skinless Warren, who’s more than anxious to repay the damage that was deservedly placed on him.

Its nice way of ending the issue but the phrase “what the hell” springs dangerously to mind. Put it this way, Warren’s reappearance is most definitely not welcome. Shouldn’t be dead? Why on earth would Amy want anything to do with him? These are only two questions that need answering.

Also in “The Long Way Home Part 3”

Cover art this issue was Willow looking dark and somewhat kinda sexy with tonnes of mist and smoke.

Ethan: “We haven’t oodles of time.”
Buffy: “You’re a chaos worshipping winnable sorcerer who takes up none; count it none of my subconscious. Which means you forced your way into my dream.”

With Ethan constantly saying “pet” and “my love”, is there any chance that he might have feelings for her? He was being pretty lecherous by saying those phrases a lot.

Amy (to Willow): “Oh man, this craft is weak; didn’t you almost destroy the world once? Now you can’t even put up a fight.”

Xander: “Ladies and gentlemen, the indescribable Rosenberg.”

In some of Buffy’s memory we got to see Faith, Tara, The Master, graduation, Joyce’s death, Angel, Spike, Riley and even Joss Whedon himself. How bizarre!

Ethan: “I’m more an antique Roman than a Dane.”
Buffy: “Did I mention I’m not crazy good at symbolism?”

Willow: “Serious magic is kinda like improv, Dawn. You can’t just stop it cold, you’ve gotta adapt.”
Dawn: “Is that why I’ve got an army of the undead playing Pride And Prejudice around my ankles?”

Aside from Kennedy dying for a month, coming back to life and ending her relationship with Willow, what else has the latter been up to for the past year? It’s not like she had the opportunity to tell Buffy much.

Xander (re the quietness of Italy): “Sounds good to me.”
Andrew: “No trust me, you’d be bored stiff.”

Renee: “You’re so butch.”
Xander: “Almost a kind of masculine vibe, don’t you think?”

One of Andrew’s slayers was reading Fray. There was an ad for the same franchise in this issue too.

Willow: “Seems like things are hopping here.”
Buffy: “Same old. Cept for Dawnie. She’s definitely not Mama’s little girl anymore.”
Willow: “Yeah, what’d she do, bone a Thricewise?”

Xander: “There’s funny bonhomie happening and I want in.”
Buffy: “No, ahh, ahh, girl thing.”
Xander: “Girl thing? With girl parts? Now I really need to know.”
Willow: “Slow year Xan?”

The letter pages seemed to indicate that this eighth season might go on for forty or fifty issues. There are pros and cons to that of course.

Amy (to Willow): “Great big all powerful earth-mother goddess and she still falls for the rope a dope.”

Warren (to Willow): “Killing Buffy Summers is gonna be a party. She pissed me off more than a little but you Rosenberg. You really got under my skin.”

Chronology: Minutes from “The Long Way Home Part 2”

Continuing on a very strong note after the excellent previous issue, “The Long Way Home Part 3” wastes no time in setting up mystery and confrontations but how the heck Warren’s return is going to impact on this series is mystifying. I hope Joss Whedon knows what he’s doing bringing this guy back. Still at least we got some quality moments with most of the Scoobies.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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