Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x10: "Anywhere But Here"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Cliff Richards

Sephrilian (to Buffy/Willow): “The end, of course. Of the struggle, of the Hellmouths … the final triumph of the base humans over the demons. It’s your life’s goal achieved, Slayer. The death of magic.”

The format of this season seems to be a four part serial with standalones sandwiched between in order to give some breathing space. This standalone of sorts fails on that objective as the Twilight continues to steamroll ahead.

When the opening panels in this issue are of Buffy relaxing on a beach and being hit on Daniel Craig (I would tap that, too), you know you’re in the land of dreams or fantasies and suffice to say we are here. After all, Buffy fantasising about hot actors is much better dangling off a flying Willow.

You heard right there. Buffy and Willow are flying to get some more information on Twilight and they amuse themselves with a game of ‘anywhere but here’. Fun idea and Willow poking fun at Buffy’s fantasy is a light way of easing readers into the story. It’s also to see a friend moment between the two of them as well. It’s also good for Willow that they’ve found their location as Buffy’s fear of being is on the increase.

Speaking of friendly moments, Xander decides to do something for Dawn. Seeing as the girl has been criticised for her recent lack of hygiene, it’s only fair that Xander got some of the witches to make some of Dawn’s clothing extra large like herself. It’s even funnier when Xander falls into the suitcase as a grateful Dawn opens up to get some fresh clothing.

With the greatness coming in, we get to see what turns Willow on (ski lodges and Tina Fey, I never would’ve guessed) but what’s more intriguing is the issue of Kennedy. In “The Long Way Home Part 3”, we learned that she died mystically, came back to life and that her and Willow are on a break.

In this issue Buffy realised that Kennedy was still significant and was quick to ask Willow about her. I love that Buffy admitted to thinking Kennedy was bratty. Kennedy is in a way but also in the kind that doesn’t wreck my head too much. Willow clearly doesn’t want to discuss it with Buffy and uses the fact that they’ve arrived at their location to change the subject.

The location in question seems to be a forest with a cottage and a woman named Robin, who obviously has been expecting them. Willow then piques Buffy’s suspicions by one minute telling her that she doesn’t know Robin and then changing her statement when Robin acknowledges. The phrase ‘timey wimey’ springs to me. Either that or Willow is up to something less good.

Anyways the main gist seems to be geared towards Buffy and Willow entering that cottage and meeting with a demon called Sephrilian, who’s in something of a cantankerous mood. A pissed off demon – big whoop. Thank God there’s the reveal about him being able to go through realities. Even more interesting though is a concept of a Minder, which is the role that Robin plays.

Like Slayers, Minders have no choice in the matter and if we’re going by Buffy’s deduction, they contain unstable realities. Buffy’s dismissive attitude about Robin being one is nicely countered by Willow. See slayers are not the only ones who shoulder a heavy burden and what not. Buffy should know that by now.

Once we’re inside and enduring the staircase that never, there’s a chance for more Buffy and Willow interaction. Bitching about Faith is never cool but Willow talking French and calling Buffy “cutie” is amusing. It’s also nice to see that Buffy’s fear of the dark from Issue Two has resurfaced again. Also Willow promising to have Buffy’s back is nice.

With Buffy and Willow heading towards the dark, Xander finds himself swimming through Dawn’s frilly attire. Dawn praising Xander for his efforts is great but not as cool as her teasing him for panicking. Yes, Xander I get that Dawn is a woman now. Then there’s the picture of Kenny.

Since “The Long Way Home Part 1”, everyone has wanted to know why Dawn became a giant. Over the last few weeks some people thought it might have been Kenny’s fault beside her transformation and I hoped that sex wasn’t involved. Well I was wrong on both accounts unfortunately.

It seems that Dawn was silly enough to sleep with Kenny’s roommate Nick. Like Buffy, it turns out that Dawn also has a penchant for bad boys and Nick is one of those wankers who people mistake for being deep. Anyways he popped Dawn’s cherry (presumably) and Kenny used magic to turn her into a giant.

It’s amazing that even now sex can still be bad on this show even in comic form. Dawn cheating on her boyfriend was bad but couldn’t Kenny have just dumped her and move on? At least we finally know how she became a giant. The only other question is when the spell is going to be reversed. Having Dawn as a giant has kept her out of the action so far.

Xander provides some decent support for Dawn. Seeing as they have a very sibling like rapport, he doesn’t berate for her poor choice in men. It is funny that he likens her actions to being clichéd, which they are. It’s also curious that Dawn doesn’t know about every guy Buffy has slept with either.

Speaking of not knowing things, Buffy is still pushing the Kennedy issue again. She tries to tell that she likes Kennedy (which I do believe) and even wants Willow to be comfortable with Kennedy around her. Willow is still having none of it and once again, there’s a demonic distraction. Also Buffy goes from being supportive to suspicious of Willow in no short time.

The demon on the other hand manages to scare the shit out of Buffy and Willow before making his presence known and felt. He’s affronted by their presence in his domain and also accuses them of being liars. Buffy pointing out that they haven’t said anything doesn’t help matters.

That being said I don’t care about the affronted demon, all I care about are answers and this guy seems willing to provide them with more questions. Twilight mentioned to that suit in “No Future For You Part 4” that he wanted to end magic and this demon more or less states the same thing.

I’m not sure why Sephrilian is revelling in the concept. If Twilight is looking to end magic, then that could be disadvantageous even for a reality flitting demon like Sephrilian. It’s also noteworthy that Buffy’s life time goal as a slayer could end up being a major disaster for Willow. Willow wasn’t best pleased when she heard that revelation was she?

Sephrilian, almost deliberately cause a divide between Buffy and Willow then shows them at their least likeable moments. On one hand, you’ve got Buffy and a ton of slayer robbing a Swiss bank and on the other, there’s Willow all naked with demon in her search for knowledge.

Willow is quick to judge Buffy’s bank robbing antics and she raises valid points all round. Voll bitched about slayers becoming corrupted and doing what pleased them and we saw it here. Buffy’s crime wasn’t that victimless and if she takes actions like this, then some of her charges are going to take a darker turn.

That being said Willow is no angel as Buffy looked shocked at her bad. Does everyone on this show need to bonk demons? What secrets was Willow looking for and more importantly, what the hell is going in that place?

The next thing we see is a vision of a bruised Buffy betrayed by someone close before Robin comes and goes in a flash. Willow acts twitchy when Buffy wonders if it’s her who’ll betray Buffy. The fact that Willow says she won’t betray her any more than she has speak volumes.

Remember twice in this issue that Willow was acting cagey about Kennedy? In our last reveal, we see Willow and Kennedy argue and then Willow reveal that the reason why she doesn’t want Buffy and Kennedy to interact is in case, Kennedy dies. Somehow Willow has now thought that Buffy’s resurrection caused Tara’s death. The hurt both Buffy and Willow exhibit during that would’ve been powerful had this been a televised episode of the series.

Sephrilian finishes his rant by criticising human emotions before him and Buffy lock into another battle. Its fun that Willow uses her magic to help Buffy slay the beastie but it also causes the field to blow up and almost kills the two of them in the process. Then again, it’s not like Buffy and Willow had a choice in the matter and Robin was able to contain it as well.

The last moments add some complicated poignancy. You’ve got Robin sympathising with Buffy and Willow but you’ve got both Slayer and Wicca unable to face each other as they go their separate ways. Damn and just when some fun was being had too.

Also in “Anywhere But Here”

There are two covers for this issue. I have Jo Chen’s with Buffy and Willow but the variant cover with the girls and Robin is pretty gorgeous as well.

Willow: “Come on! We’re flying!”
Buffy: “You’re flying. I’m dangling.”

This is the second issue where we’ve had the cover image appear in the comic, what with Buffy and Willow flying.

Dawn: “Uh, Xander?”
Xander (mumbled): “I don’t love you anymore.”

Willow: “Sephrilian walks between worlds. Reality tends to buckle around those guys.”
Buffy: “It’s bigger on the inside.”
Willow: “That’s my guess.”

The winner Jerrod Balzer wrote a touching letter about his wife Robin, who is the character in this issue.

Buffy (re Robin): “I thought you hadn’t met.”
Willow: “We do later on.”
Buffy: “And I’m just gonna ride with that.”

Buffy: “If things get dicey, then I get slay-ey. But that’s not what we came for.”
Willow: “We’re just here to talk.”
Robin: “There’s a chance you’ll wish you hadn’t.”

Buffy also fantasised about Christian Bale from both Little Women and Reign Of Fire. Also a guy that I wouldn’t mind tapping.

Willow: “Ah, esprit d’escolier.”
Buffy: “Willow! What’s happening? I can’t understand you! It’s getting inside us.”
Willow: “It’s French, cutie. You really are afraid of the dark, aren’t you?”

Xander: “Frilly … frilly! Lord of hosts, I’m in the frilly.”
Dawn: “Relax, tiny; it’s a camisole.”

Does anyone think that Kenny’s friend looked a little bit like Andrew? No, seriously take a look at that picture.

Sephrilian: “You reek of lies.”
Buffy: “We haven’t, unnh even said anything yet!”

Dawn (to Xander): “It’s not that simple. I lied to Willow. I didn’t sleep with Kenny. I slept with his roommate.”

Please tell me Kenny did something to punish Nick as well. Also can Joss please explain what a Thricewise is at some point?

Sephrilian (to Buffy/Willow): “Lies, delusions, gross simplifications …these are what make mankind. No fault in it; your brains could not contain the horrible beauty of total awareness. You run from it, as from a predator. You escape. Even from each other. Take a look.”

Buffy: “Will, I don’t think I wanna be here anymore!”
Willow: “I don’t think we are.”

The demon woman Willow made out with had white hair, a snake like tail and green skin. The forest background was a nice touch.

Demon (to Willow): “Are all my secrets laid bare now? Have you found what you needed? Or shall I show you more?”
Buffy (reacting to what she has seen): “Wow you’re bad is way better than mine.”

Dawn (re Nick):“Bass. Vocals. I’m a Satan.”
Xander: “Dawnie stop! You hereby guilty of being a cliché and that’s it. You ever see the first guy Buffy slept with in college?”
Dawn: “Riley.”
Xander: “Oh how she wishes.”

What was inside the cracked red egg shell in Sephrilian’s lair?

Buffy: “Is it you? Is that why we’re both in this?”
Willow: “No. I won’t betray you. Any more than I have.”

Kennedy (to Willow): “You know I’d die for you … oh wait, I did! Admittedly it was mystical and kind of mellow but, headline: death! And I didn’t say a word about your six month mystical walkabout.”

That yellow top on Kennedy looked pretty nasty. It’s not something you’d think she would wear on the series.

Robin: “I’m sorry if I projected a remnant in there. It went when the field closed down. But I imagine that it wasn’t something fun.”
Buffy: “It was demons. Playing games.”

Chronology: No mention of a time distance since “No Future For You Part 4”.

This was fun in some ways and confusing as heck in a lot of others. “Anywhere But Here” continued to build up the Twilight mystery but how many divides in the Scooby faction must we deal with? Buffy already is on the outs with Giles and now it looks like her and Willow could go their separate ways too.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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