Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x11: "A Beautiful Sunset"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Twilight: “Understand this girl. You cannot fight me.”
Buffy: “Understand this ass-clown. I probably will anyway.”

About nearly a third way through this comic saga, our second standalone issue in a row opens up with Buffy musing about what her and Willow did in regards to activating so many slayers.

Suffice to say Buffy is of the belief that her and Willow did the right thing but so far we’ve been shown reasons why this might not be the case. We’ve had the likes of Voll say that Buffy has ended up corrupting the natural order and we get a sneak peek of that here.

If Genevieve was an example of new slayers being activated all at one being susceptible to corruption, then she wasn’t the only one. The rather annoying and volatile punk slayer Simone is also embracing her dark side when she enlists a bunch of girls to help her steal arms.

Xander and Rona had both been aware of the girl’s wilder side and had hoped that spending time with Andrew might have softened her a little. Given how annoying Andrew, it’s not surprising that Simone might have decided to go off the rails. Sadly because she hasn’t been given the kind of scope that Faith and Gigi have been given, I can’t say I really care for Simone.

Suitably this is one of the last things that Buffy really wants to be dealing with. Although she asks some questions in regards to Simone’s little army, she’s more annoyed that Simone’s antics only go to support Voll’s negative theories about the new line of slayers.

Xander seems al enthusiastic for taking Simone out of the picture but Buffy isn’t entirely quick to completely blame Simone. Which would be a great thing if she hadn’t been such a bitch to Faith and is still on a crash course in isolating herself from Willow and Giles.

Nope, Buffy blames herself for Simone and even mentions that Willow freaked out about her little bank robbery. The fact that Xander seems so nonchalant about it is also rather worrying. Although he might not mean, Xander shouldn’t say anything to Buffy that supports that particular bad deed of hers.

While Buffy predictably enough doesn’t go into full detail as to why her and Willow aren’t on speaking terms there is a joyful little scene where Buffy teases Xander’s need for a guy friend by suggesting Andrew but Xander weasels out of that by giving Buffy a vampire nest to deal with. Buffy also then decides that Satsu might be the appropriate partner for this little hunt.

Given the fact they have issues to resolve after that kiss in “The Long Way Home Part 3”, I’m glad for the confirmation it was Satsu. Better still is Buffy’s approval of Xander throwing a party for Dawn.

With the booze flowing and plenty of drunken slayers, instead of moralising, Buffy realises the benefits of seeing the girls let their hair down and it’s also rather nice to see Dawn enjoy herself for the first time this season. I’m still hoping that this giant thing will soon end but having Buffy express happiness at Dawn being happy is really nice for once.

That being said Buffy has never been the life and soul of a party herself and instead of having fun with her charges and Dawn, she decides to leave. Xander once again points out that Buffy spends way too much time alone. It would be nice if Buffy actually took that advice on board.

Instead she and Satsu go vampire hunting and this does lead to some good moments between the women. Satsu’s bumbling is rather sweet and even Buffy even gently teases her before telling her that she’s her best fighter. Of course Buffy also points out that there are some things that Satsu might want to be savvy with in order to be better.

One of them would be not to land on your face. I guess Buffy doesn’t want to wipe Satsu’s face all the time but the biggest thing that Satsu needs to learn is that she’s always going to be in danger. Before Satsu can really get what the hell Buffy is on about, she winds up being kicked straight into a bunch of vampires.

Buffy deducing that it was Satsu leads to some great dialogue here. The lip gloss would’ve been the obvious giveaway but apparently Buffy has enough self-awareness to see how Satsu is around her. Satsu fears that Buffy knowing this automatically means her being kicked out of the gang but Buffy is more focused on other things.

Namely the extent of how Satsu feels for her. Buffy knows it’s beyond a crush or else the kiss wouldn’t have woken her up but she’s also quick to point out the negative aspects of being in love to Satsu as well.

Satsu seems relatively young and I’m willing to bet someone who hasn’t yet fully been able to embrace her own sexuality. Buffy’s kind enough to let her down her gently and admits to being flattered that a great person like Satsu fancies her. It’s the nicest way Buffy could’ve let her down and Satsu seems mature enough to understand why Buffy could never reciprocate her feelings.

However Buffy then goes on to point out that being in love with her is a bad idea. Using her failed relationships with Angel, Riley and Spike as good examples, it’s almost amazing to see Buffy open up like this and there’s something rather affecting about her meltdown. Even though Satsu is still a new friend in Buffy’s life, I’m always happy to see Buffy let someone really deserving in.

The best part is that this all took place during a fight with the vampire nest. It’s the one thing all season that we have been denied and seeing Buffy and Satsu converse and slay is joyful. Buffy is also at her sarcastic best here when she’s more interesting in Satsu and less about incurring some vampiric wrath.
Of course not everyone gives a damn about Buffy’s secret pain and Twilight interrupts the girl talk by attacking both Buffy and Satsu out of nowhere. His comment about girls always complaining makes me wonder if we’re going to get another misogynistic asshole of a baddie.

Quickly beating the shit out of poor Satsu, Twilight is also able to outwit Buffy’s moves and decides to take her for a lift in the air. Seeing Buffy kick the guy and then successfully use the scythe against his throat would’ve made for a great TV moments, like with that air battle with Faith and the gargoyles in “No Future For You Part 2”.

Twilight bragging about Buffy being unable to fight him was silly. Buffy’s a pretty determined woman and she’s more than happy to point out that she does intend to take him on. At least Twilight is realistic in knowing she won’t back down so he takes her on a flying lesson she won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

The thing is that while Twilight is happy to attack Buffy and try and smash her into as many things as possible, he seems more determined to talk to her first. Unfortunately for him, listening to Buffy feel bad for herself brought out the urge to beat her up and he’s happy to use the top of a church to do that.

Defiant as Buffy likes to be with her enemy, she’s soon brought down a peg or two. Discovering that her mysterious attacker is Twilight was one thing. Having the guy voice further hints that empowering so many slayers at once is a bad thing was the other. Buffy isn’t able to come with a snappy comeback when he asks if she did the right thing.

Twilight pretends to be compassionate by sparing her and saying it’s a gift. While Buffy tries to comfort a guilt ridden Satsu, Twilight points out that killing Buffy is pointless. He does have a point. Both The Master and Warren failed in that area and so did self-sacrifice.

Instead Twilight thinks it’s a much better idea to strip her of her moral certainty and chances are, he’ll succeed. The previous issues raised issues about Buffy’s ethics and even she’s becoming more and more inclined to think that her new enemy might have a good point.

As for who Twilight can be, it’s definitely a bloke and it’s definitely human but is it someone we’ve met before. Twilight seems to be fused with a fair amount of magic too given how he initiated his attack on Buffy and Satsu and how easy it was for him to fly. Plus he barely got a scratch on him. As fights go, his and Buffy’s could’ve lasted a little longer but I’ll look forward to seeing how his arc plays out.

At least the Twilight encounter meant that Buffy really didn’t have to drill in the dangers that Satsu was up against. She more than got it here and once again, some of Buffy’s best moments was her promising to be there for Satsu. If they can’t have a relationship, then I don’t see why a friendship should be out of the question for these two.

The last scene with Xander ended the story well. Xander believes that Buffy is making a difference and Buffy still can’t connect with her army. I hate that side of things. Buffy does need to connect with these girls and build bridges with Willow, Giles and Faith because she’s gonna need them on her side more now than ever.

Also in “A Beautiful Sunset”

Cover for this issue was Buffy getting her ass kicked by Twilight in the cemetery.

Buffy (to herself): “Saving the world means keeping the status quo but the apocalypses come because the world is trying to change. It has to. That either means chaos and the morons chaos inevitably employs or means moving forward. To something better. And I did that. Yay me.”

I noticed during the flashback to “Chosen”, Satsu was a schoolgirl. I think Rona and Vi were briefly seen here too.

Xander: “I mean a guy, not a man. A guy for the guy bonding.”
Buffy: “Well Andrew …”
Xander: “Do you really intend to finish that sentence?”
Buffy: “No, it’s a nice length for now. Any other pressing items?”

Xander: “I think it was Thursday and you wore blue. Seriously, Buff you spend too much time alone.”

Buffy’s birthday is approaching. Xander gave her the vampire nest as a precursor to it.

Buffy: “And what have we learned?”
Satsu: “That Scotland is slippery?”
Buffy: “Do I look amused?”
Satsu: “I really can’t say.”

Buffy: “Number one is you are always in danger. Right now you’re in terrible danger.”
Satsu: “Why?”
Buffy: “You’re in love with me.”

Even in battle Satsu still carries around badges and drooping teddy bears around her hair.

Satsu: “Don’t make fun of me. This isn’t some crush.”
Buffy: “Your kiss couldn’t have woken me up if it was.”

Vampire: “Now girl you will feel the wrath of -”
Buffy: “Oh God, nobody cares about your wrath.”

Nice to see Buffy wearing some sensible gear in regards to her fight with the vampires and Twilight in this issue.

Twilight (to Buffy): “The chosen one. Always in pain and always complaining. Just like a girl.”

Twilight: “I know that move, slayer. Let me show you some of mine.”

Buffy tried to split Twilight in half like she did with Caleb. Twilight also admitted to stalking her.

Twilight: “I’d expect no less but I watched you and the witch. It seemed that you didn’t like flying.”
Buffy: “I get used to things real fast.”
Twilight: “Very well then. Let’s ride.”

Twilight (to Buffy): “I’ll not kill you. My first gift is my last. I know that you meant well but you have brought about disaster. And it falls to me to avert it.”

If that’s the case, then shouldn’t Twilight and Buffy be working together instead of scrapping?

Twilight (to his followers, re Buffy): “However hapless she might be about her personal life, this girl has always firmly believed she was on the side of right. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the slayer. Sorry itchy neck. Where was I?”

Satsu: “Are you okay? That creep sure did a number on you.”
Buffy: “I’ll heal. We’ll heal.”

This issue ended with the little BTVS logo which was a nice touch.

Xander (on Buffy not connecting): “Maybe you don’t get to. Maybe the leader, the girl who brings it all together is the one that has to give that up.”
Buffy: “Yeah. Yay me.”

Chronology: We’re nearing Buffy’s 24th birthday so I’d say around January 2005.

I admit this is a somewhat stronger issue than the previous one. “A Beautiful Sunset” feels very much like a traditional Buffy episode and the first encounter with her and Twilight does deliver. However Buffy not connecting with others has been done to death and it’s high time she was in a healthy relationship at this point of her life.

Rating: 9 out of 10.