Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x12: "Wolves At The Gate Part 1"

Written by Drew Goddard
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Buffy: “Wow. That was … that was … wow.”
Satsu: “Yeah … ‘that was wow’ pretty much covers it.”

It’s not the only response that requires a wow. We’ve got one of the best writers working on this issue and we’re back into arcs, which I have to admit to preferring over the standalones. Even the title of this arc elicits the right amount of curiosity.

Scotland is a pretty bust place and it’s even busier at night as Xander and Renee share patrolling duties. The last time Renee was patrol duty, Amy summoned up a zombie army that nearly got her killed. Surely a few spooky looking wolves would be a bit of a comedown.

Not really when you look at those scary red eyes and the fog behind them. That’s more than enough to even creep me out a little. Of course not only Xander sure that wolves are stalking the scoobies castle but he’s flirtation mode too.

Given that Renee couldn’t be anymore obvious about the way she feels for Xander, it’s nice to see that he has feelings for her too. Renee’s a nice girl and by all means, Xander could do worse. Also Renee might the only woman who is capable of being geeky enough for Xander without turning into a female Andrew.

However there are one or two teething problems. Xander’s eyesight brings out some self-doubt in his abilities to identify an attack and Renee isn’t fond of the idea of him babysitting her. If Renee happens to have the same stance on babysitters as one of my friends does, I can understand why.

Luckily for her, Xander isn’t actually watching her in a watcher like capacity and is more interested in going on a date with her. Well Buffy did encourage him to go for it in the previous issue and while Renee might be Xander’s subordinate, whatever relationship they might have is undermined by the other tryst in this issue.

Remember in “A Beautiful Sunset” when Buffy told Satsu she was flattered but in no uncertain terms would she date her? I bring that up because while Buffy might not be dating Satsu, she seems to have no problem sleeping with her. I’m not joking and I kinda wished I didn’t know about this a day before I bought the comic but that’s what happens when you’re a spoiler junkie.

Buffy’s reaction to sleeping with Satsu is interesting. On one hand you think she’s thinking ‘what did I just do?’ whereas on the other, it looks like she’s thinking ‘what took me so long to do that?’ Only a silly person would jump to the assumption that Buffy has suddenly turned gay. Ask Perez Hilton of all people.

That being said, as developments go, I’m not sure how to feel. My friend thought it was utter bullshit when he read the comic himself and people online seem to either feel that or think it was consistent. I think it might be more a case of experimentation. I can’t even picture Buffy being bisexual, never mind gay.

Of course it’s amazing that this entire development in of itself has warranted so much attention. Is this shock tactics or is there a genuinely interesting plot there? You can definitely argue that it’s not a necessary development, that’s for sure. Then again, look how many TV shows right now have their straight women suddenly experiment with another woman. Is it wrong for this series to do the same?

Satsu might come across as a bit naïve but she was quick enough in the previous issue to realise that Buffy is straight and even after sleeping with her, Satsu still believes that Buffy isn’t for turning. One of the first things she asks Buffy is how they handle each other. Nice to see the girl’s brain is still in perfect working order.

Buffy during the aftermath of their tryst is priceless. Sleeping with a woman isn’t something she’s well versed in and there’s something rather endearing about her confusion and fears that she may not have satisfied Satsu. I like that Buffy doesn’t attempt to bullshit Satsu.

For instance, she admits to having a good time but also admits that she cannot guarantee a repeat performance either. Although Satsu does seem sad by that, Buffy did the right thing in being up front with her. Maybe Buffy has learned something from her previous relationships.

However allowing Satsu to stay could be indicative of giving the girl some false hope. I wonder what on earth will happen with Buffy/Satsu during the rest of the arc. I don’t picture them as a couple (although you have to admit that Satsu is a big improvement on Spike), especially with Buffy typically not being keen to have anyone know about their ‘wonderful night’.

That’s where the comedy comes into things. Buffy might have wanted to keep her and Satsu a bit quiet but a bit like Captain Jack/Ianto from Torchwood, there’s a better chance of a Buffy movie than that happening. I mean Buffy hasn’t been able to keep her relationships very secret, has she?

History repeats itself wonderfully first by Xander and Renee walking in on them. Buffy’s reaction is hysterical with her screaming at Xander to close his eye and falling out of the bed when Renee spots her. It also doesn’t help when a doped up Andrew, a peering Dawn and a bloodied Willow also spot the pair as Buffy tries to put her clothes on.

On screen this would be absolutely hilarious but even in comic form, I did laugh out loud when reading it. Unlike Angel Season Six so far, Season Eight has had a terrific blend of dark material and the lighter moments. I can see why some people might have found this moment a bit much but I did enjoy it. It might have helped that I was in a good mood when reading the comic.

So how do you think the gang are going to react to this? Buffy sleeping with a subordinate is going to create a lot more friction in the slayer circles than Xander/Renee. I really couldn’t care less about Andrew’s opinion but I’m definitely interested in learning what Dawn and Willow have to say.

With the exception of Andrew, everyone seemed to want Buffy because of those bloody wolves. Dawn can’t sleep because she’s getting mysteriously attacked by bees. Trust me I feel for Dawn, I really hate bees/wasps myself and Willow had the crap beaten into her by some vampire chick.

Okay at first it did look like Willow was about to be snatched by the vampire so it’s almost a relief to see her crashing into Buffy’s bedroom. After “Anywhere But Here”, I did fear that Willow might be gone for a while so it’s nice to have her back, even if her timing couldn’t have been more wrong for Buffy.

So with vampires, wolves and bees all spotted, something has to up. Well it is as the next we see a wolf heading for the armoury. Seeing the wolf then morphing into a vampire more or cemented the obvious. We’ve seen this crazy stuff with Dracula so could these vampires be working for him? I don’t think so even if they do share the same abilities as him.

They’re here for the scythe and Buffy gets a reason to do some ass kicking as she tries to stop them from getting it. Again this should be more important than Buffy/Satsu but is not as vocalised. Still at least Buffy makes a decent attempt to stop them even if they do manage to take her most valuable of weapons.

Vampires who can turn into animals are both creepy and cool at the same time. In fact it helps to add to the atmospheric vibe this whole arc is presumably going for and this band of vampires are certainly snappy dressers to boot. Just like with “No Future For You”, I’m sensing some serious awesomeness ahead.

These vampires have to know good and proper about the scythe they’re stealing and what’s it able to do. It’s the only weapon they bothered to take so there’s definitely has to be a sinister motive behind it. You don’t need to have an emergency meeting to come to that conclusion.

It is however amazing that it does take both Buffy and Willow a while to figure out that some vampires can change their form. Willow did seem the most sceptical about their attackers being vampires and how funny was it when Xander realised that he was about to be used as bait?

I suppose him going off to be Dracula’s spider eating man bitch for a second time is supposed to tell us that Dracula could be an unwilling ally for the gang. Why else would Buffy put him in that position? I might be in a minority but I’m actually excited to have the count back.

Dracula might be a glory hound but he’s not the most ambitious of vampires either. It’s interesting that Xander trusts Renee enough to place her in the role as his anchor. It also serves as a reminder to Renee that even someone like Xander comes with his own baggage. Xander’s submission at the end to Dracula is worthy of slash last seen in Season Three of Doctor Who.

Also in “Wolves At The Gates Part 1”

Cover for this issue had Buffy with really curly hair and the scythe in the streets of Tokyo surrounded by a wolf and two vampires. Spoiler for next issue perhaps?

Renee: “You don’t need to babysit me. Definitely wolves by the way.”
Xander: “Okay. Hang on, back up. Nobody’s babysitting anyone here … if anything that fantasy comes much later and only if we both agree to it and have a safe word.”

I notice that both Xander and Renee are actually beginning to dress alike now too.

Willow: “I’m supposed to call you ‘miss’?”
Andrew: “’Lois’ is fine.”
Willow: “If you start with that ‘can you read my mind again?’ speech again, I’m dropping you.”

Renee: “Nope. Scotland is a primitive society. Their men hunt with clubs and their women wear corsets to bed.”
Xander: “I don’t want to go out with you anymore.”

The last three issues we’ve had flying lessons – Buffy/Willow, Buffy/Twilight and Willow/Andrew. Maybe Xander and Dracula will have a go next issue.

Satsu: “I mean … I know what this is. I know you didn’t just … turn gay all of a sudden.”
Buffy: “Right. Wait … how do you know that? Did I do something wrong? Because I’m flying blind here. It’s not like they make instructions manuals for these sort of things.”
Satsu: “Actually they do.”

Satsu: “Trust me you didn’t do anything wrong.”
Buffy: “But I didn’t do enough things! You did more things than I did!”
Satsu: “And you let me. You were amazing.”

The one I notice that not everyone else did is that Buffy and Satsu are seen post sex and don’t kiss or even touch each other afterwards. They just talked which was good too.

Buffy (to Satsu): “I don’t know. It’s like … I had a wonderful night. And … it’s been a while since I said that. So … tomorrow, I’m gonna think about what we did and I’m gonna blush. And then I’m gonna smile.”

Xander (spotting Buffy/Satsu): “Oh merciful Zeus!”
Buffy: “Xander get out of here!”
Xander: “I didn’t see anything I swear.”

Because it needs to asked, why exactly is Andrew here? Is it something to with Simone going off the rails?

Andrew: “Oh hi Buffy. Hi nude Asian girl. How much Dramamine did I take?”
Buffy: “Everybody get out of my room.”

Buffy: “This isn’t what it looks like.”
Xander: “Oh thank God, it’s a dream.”
Renee: “I don’t think it’s a dream.”

In the letter page there was a promo for a Serenity comic rather than Issue 13.

Renee: “Xander, like wonky how?”
Dracula: “Hello manservant.”
Xander: “Hey, how it going … Master.”

Chronology: None is specified since the events of “A Beautiful Sunset”.

Pseudo-lesbianism or whatever, there’s no denying another great issue and “Wolves At The Gate Part 1” was bloody perfect. Drew Goddard is one of the best writers and the dialogue here comes thick and fast and by the looks of it, we have another fantastic arc to look forward to.

Rating: 9 out of 10.