Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x14: "Wolves At The Gate Part 3"

Written by Drew Goddard
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Xander: “Hi guys.”
Buffy: “You look terrible.”
Xander (re Dracula): “It’s been a long flight. He doesn’t travel well.”

Last issue saw the gruesome death of Aiko when Toru was successful in turning her back into an ordinary girl. Needless to say that as soon as Buffy and her troops arrive in Tokyo, they get one hell of a greeting.

Clearly Toru knew that Buffy would come to retrieve her scythe but even Buffy wasn’t expecting to see a strung up slayer on a public building. Horrifying the locals, it’s also a nice reminder for Buffy not to underestimate this particular threat. If Toru can do that to one slayer, then he’s going to have a cherry pick of them now.

Buffy’s pretty disgusted at Aiko’s death but fortunately she evades the “everybody sucks but me” she dished out in “Get It Done”. Instead she gets help in getting Aiko’s body down from the building and brings it back to base as the other slayers watch her.

Willow does her best to be a comfort to Buffy and after the friction between them in “Anywhere But Here”; it’s nice to see them on side. Now if only Buffy could extend that courtesy to Giles and Faith, I would be one very happy reader. No seriously, it’s time Buffy got over that one.

Anyways the fun little girl time gets interrupted by Dracula, which I guess is marginally better than Andrew. Acting like a grand dame Dracula is quick to remind Buffy and Willow that he thinks they are idiots. The fact that neither one of them hurls some form of an insult back is a bit jarring.

Still at least Xander is there to greet his friends and while he does make a lame attempt to defend Dracula, this comic does fortunately give him much better material to work than being the count’s gopher.

Dracula meanwhile not only decides to give Willow a spell to combat the shape changing vampires but he also leaves his manners at home by wanting to snack on Aiko. I suppose its comic but seeing as Dracula seems to be channelling Spike in the dialogue department; it’s a bit irritating as well.

As for our baddies, when they’re not busy setting up a giant symbol to help with the crippling of the slayer line, both Toru and Raidon are either sniping at each other or talking about precautions to be taken against Buffy and her army of slayers.

It shows that Toru is smart enough to realise that his plan could possibly go wrong and Kumiko is still being really creepy by hanging upside down on the wall. Still as secure as Toru might want to be, you have to admit that he still does have to be that extra cautious.

The scoobies are definitely not short of ideas to get their own information on Toru. Having Renee undercover as a frightened school girl in order to trick one of Toru’s soldiers was a neat twist. Renee is definitely convincing enough to dupe this bloke, even though he doesn’t come across as the brightest of vampires.

While he thinks he’s got a tasty school girl treat, Renee quickly reveals her identity before Willow is able to snare him. It seems that Dracula’s spell is reliable after all as the vampire is unable to escape from his boxed prison.

Weirdly though, the gang’s method of extracting information from him felt a tad too extreme. I mean having Willow squirt him with gasoline before Buffy torched was kind of taking things too far. I know she’s got a serious war on her hands and while that vampire was better off dead, did she really have to go that far.

A part of me would like to justify her actions by saying that maybe finding out about Toru’s plans just freaked her out but there was a callousness in what Buffy did that makes me wonder yet again if General Voll was right about her all along.

Because of this Buffy also does what she does worst by isolating those she needs. This time around it’s Satsu who feels Buffy’s distant behaviour when she’s told to stand down. Now there are some arguments that should be in privacy and this was one of them.

Instead Buffy had it out with Satsu in front of the other slayers who by the looks of it are well aware that Buffy and Satsu slept together. Of course Buffy tries to pass off her order as a method of leading but even though Satsu is younger, she isn’t stupid and calls Buffy out on her actions.

Using the Tokyo based slayers as an excuse might have been plausible but clearly Satsu knows Buffy better than she thinks. Satsu even openly ponders if Buffy’s orders have more to do with either protecting or avoiding her and Buffy herself isn’t able to put up much of an argument against the flighty slayer.

Instead Satsu basically tells her that she’s fighting with her and storms off. Buffy on the other hand just ponders that she finds it sexy that Satsu calls her “Ma’am”. While I still maintain that Buffy isn’t gay, there is the possibility that this tryst between her and Satsu might last a bit longer, provided Satsu doesn’t get killed in this arc.

Buffy isn’t the only person with romantic problems. The last two issues have gotten past the awkward stages and confirmed that Renee’s crush on Xander isn’t one-sided. Nope, Xander ups the flirty banter between him and Renee by explaining the etiquette of dating.

This dialogue is a nice reminder to a younger Xander and given how much I like Renee as a character, it’s also undeniably cute as well. He might go on just a tad too much but it’s really nice to see him open up to another person romantically and Renee’s way of countering his proposition is also hilarious.

She reminds him about the less savoury antics that in real life would never occur on a first date but she also puts him out of his misery by planting a juicy kiss on him too. Oh and if she wasn’t likeable she remains nasty to Dracula, who isn’t so quick with the comebacks in this one.

Actually by the looks of things while Dracula might protest about never wanting to go on a date with either Xander or Renee, he sure as hell looked jealous when he saw them making out with each other. I admit that I did find that funny, particularly as Xander and Renee ignored his hints for them to cut it out.

As for the action of the episode, you’ve got a street littered with over a thousand vampires, lot of slayers hiding in the alley and on a roof there’s Xander, Renee, Buffy, Dracula, Andrew and Rowena all discussing different tactics. Everyone except Buffy seems to be spoiling for a fight. All she wants is her scythe back.

Knowing what Toru is doing with her beloved weapon, it’s no wonder Buffy is eager to get the scythe back but with so many vampires standing between her and Toru’s lair, she doesn’t have a lot of options. That’s where Willow comes in and she uses her magic by teleporting Dawn to the scene.

I suppose I should’ve guessed that with the insanely prolonged giant problem, Dawn would once again come in handy. She was useful in knocking out Amy and squatting zombies in “The Long Way Home Part 3” so it makes sense to use her size to terrify the crap out of Toru’s minions.

That being said Dawn did take her time getting into Godzilla mode. Then when she did, she had no problem smashing a few building as well in order to pose a serious threat to Toru’s minions. Andrew musing about the unusual situation Dawn was put it was nice.

As for finding Toru, it was really was a case of being too good to be true. I should’ve guessed when Buffy and the gang go inside the factory and he didn’t seem to look their way. Then Willow got the headache from hell and Xander’s face came into contact with a lot of blood.

Killing Aiko wasn’t satisfying enough for Toru as the victim he claims now is Renee. While her death isn’t as tear jerking as Tara’s was in “Seeing Red”, it’s definitely impacting enough to invoke fury. I liked Renee and I liked the idea of her and Xander hooking up. Does Joss Whedon and his staff writers have to kill off every love interest for the Scoobies when he’s not making them evil?

Given that Renee also hasn’t appeared in that many issues anyway (I think she’s been at least eight), I think this comic took an easy way out in killing her. Unless Renee actually survived being impaled by the scythe but that’s highly unlikely.

Granted if it hadn’t have been her then Satsu could’ve easily also gotten as she’s the only other developed new slayer in Season Eight. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Faith, Kennedy, Rona and Vi aren’t around. There’s at least one of them whose death would seriously anger me more. I’m also dreading how Xander is going to react to having yet another dead lover.

Also in “Wolves At The Gate Part 3”

Cover for this issue that I bought was the one with Dawn stomping all over Tokyo in Godzilla mode.

Willow: “How long are you gonna stay up here?”
Buffy: “Just ‘til I figure out what to do next.”

Given the severity of Toru is trying to pull off, I think Buffy really should warn both Giles and Faith as well as the other slayer factions what he’s up to.

Dracula: “I’m assuming you’ve considered using Carolina’s grasp. I mean you’re not complete idiots are you?”
Buffy: “Oh good it’s you.”
Willow: “And Xander!”
Buffy: “Who’s grasping Carolina’s what now?”

Dracula: “I need to get my coffin installed. The sun should be up before long.”
Buffy: “It’s eight pm.”
Dracula: “Is it? I’ve never understood time zones.”

When Kumiko is sleeping/praying upside down it looks like her feet are literally inside the ceiling.

Toru: “You have no imagination, do you Raidon?”
Raidon: “I’m fairly certain it died with my soul.”

Raidon: “What’s Kumiko doing?”
Toru: “I think she’s praying, though it’s always hard to tell with her.”

There’s a timely ad in this comic for Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull actions figures given the movie’s imminent release.

Vampire: “Well you have to be careful. You never know who you could run into out here.”
Renee: “Boy, you’re telling me.”

Buffy (to the vampire): “Everytime we try to fight one of you guys, you turn into air and it’s really hard to fight air. At least until you remember … air burns.”

Buffy had on a T-shirt with a dragon logo on it. Plus school girl Renee was the first time we’ve seen that girl in a different costume.

Vampire: “Please I told you everything I know. You have to let me go.”
Buffy: “I never agreed to that.”

Buffy: “I need you to stay here and look after them. And I need you to help them bury Aiko.”
Satsu: “You want me to stand down.”

Judging by the way the other slayers are looking, they definitely do know that something went on with Buffy and Satsu.

Satsu: “I’m not following your order. Not this time. I’ll see you on the battlefield. Ma’am.”
Buffy: “I can’t believe I find it sexy when she calls me ‘Ma’am’.”

Renee (to Xander): “Okay, so just to be clear. When people ask what we did on our first date, you want me to tell them we dressed me up like a school girl, used me as bait on the streets of Japan. Lit a vampire on fire, then geared up to go into battle with several hundred girls and Dracula.”

At one point we did see Dracula dressing up in the same outfit he wore in “Buffy Vs. Dracula”. I also quite like that sword of his.

Dracula (to Xander/Renee): “I resent that. I would never go on a date with the two of you. Even if you begged. So don’t even bother asking.”

Buffy (to everyone): “I’m not looking for a fight. All that matter is the scythe. Once we get that back, they can’t hurt us. I mean except, you know in the traditional biting and stabbing and clawing sense. But we’ll deal with that when it comes.”

There were not one but two people who commented on The Doctor and Rose’s appearances in “No Future For You Part 1” in the letter section.

Dawn (to the vampires): “Hi. Or I mean … roar?”

Buffy (to Toru): “Yep, that is, in fact, a giant Godzilla woman wreaking havoc on your minions and to make matters worse, she’s a teenage so moody. Believe me, there’s no dishonour in surrender despite what your culture says to the contrary.”

I’m guessing Kumiko drummed up the mirage of Toru to distract Buffy.

Buffy: “Guys it’s a -”
Toru: “I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘trap’?”

The next issue of this arc is released the day before my birthday – June 4th, though as I live in Ireland I’ll get it on June 5th hopefully.

Well this was definitely an improvement. “Wolves At The Gates Part 3” was more darker and wins points for keeping Andrew and Dracula’s contributions to a thankful minimum. It’s going to be interesting to see how this very arc is resolved next issue.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


markvigil said...

hey Shawn brilliant review! You passion amazes me. Somehow when I'm here reading your reviews I cant help but think to myself that I am in the presences of genius. Just being honest. Later Mate, Mark

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