Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x18: "Time Of Your Life Part 3"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Karl Moline

Fray (re Buffy): “’Big picture …’ that spin’s for govvers, not slayers. Something’s skew with that girl.”
Dark Willow: “Anger won’t help. You have to understand Buffy. If you hate her she’ll be harder to kill.”

Three quarters of the way into this arc, it doesn’t feel like too much is advancing, does it? So far we know Buffy’s been thrust into a future where only one slayer now survives but she’s still clueless on how all the others perished within the space of 200 years.

Leafing through some books in Fray’s house doesn’t really help Buffy. When the clues aren’t being cryptic or ridiculous, then it’s sad for Buffy to discover that none of the race of slayers herself and Willow created have even made it into the history books.

Naturally enough this distresses Buffy and being stuck in a rather dystopian future also does little to boost her self esteem. Fray on the other hand is more concerned with a lead from Gunther on a current vampire hit so Buffy doesn’t get too much time to brood, which is good because self-pitying Buffy can be exhausting at times.

Still Fray’s appalling English is also a good thing for Buffy to concentrate. Three issues into this arc and even I feel like shaking Fray and asking her to speak properly but despite her terrible vocabulary, at least Buffy is smart enough to realise that a part of Fray’s plan involves actual slaying.

As for Willow, she’s still smarting over being duped by Saga Vasuki and decides to take a more assertive stance in order to save Buffy. Kennedy’s function in this issue is to serve as a means of support and she does this by getting Willow to try and contact the snake demon for help.

The flipside is the method that Willow has to take in order to do this. Okay while she doesn’t have to go and slaughter another deer, the idea of her and Kennedy frakking doesn’t exactly fill me with excitement under the circumstances. Maybe Saga Vasuki should consider opening up an email account instead.

Xander and Dawn are also not having a very good time of it either. With the castle going up in flames and demons after them, these two could really use some luck as well. Xander also badly times falling off Dawn’s back as well but at least it didn’t take either one of them long enough to figure out that Warren and Amy were behind this little scheme.

The one thing that slightly peeves me is that we’re not getting to see either Warren or Amy. Blowing up the castle was a good move on their part but shouldn’t we be seeing them put the rest of their plans into action. Shouldn’t Twilight and General Voll also be factoring at this point as well?

Then there’s the attack of the tree people as well. As if things weren’t bad enough for Xander and Dawn but now they have another adversaries to contend with to boot. Funnily enough this problem is taken care of far easier by Xander and Dawn simply dressing them down. Apparently tree demons (or whatever they) are the least frightening thing to find in a forest.

In the future however, the likes of Gunther has a lot worse shit to deal with when Harth makes a house call. Harth is unsurprisingly annoyed that Gunther has been helping his little sister with the big monsters and decides to take care of the Mer creature once and for all.

I quite like Gunther as a character so I’m a little sad to see him meet such a grisly death as a group of Harth’s vampires decide to feast on him. However although not a lot is seen, it does make for a nice little gory moment in the issue. Then again, there is the good possibility that Gunther might actually survive into the next issue.

As for Buffy, she might be a slayer but it still turns out that she’s a lousy driver with even Fray scared for her life. There’s a nice moment where Buffy’s notoriously bad motor skills are noted by the other slayer but for the most part, Fray’s priorities lie solely in getting the baddies.

Buffy however is more curious about the origins and that is where her and Fray openly conflicted. Buffy’s ‘big picture’ speech isn’t much to stop Fray from just attacking vampires and Buffy herself is a little too occupied with her bad driving skills to do anything to stop the volatile slayer.

One of the more interesting moments of the issue is when Fray takes a look at a victim and then faces off against Dark Willow. Just a few seconds to that, Fray was openly questioning Buffy’s ‘big picture’ speech so it only seems ripe that Dark Willow would use it as a conversation starter.

Our Willow on the other hand is having mind blowing sex. Now my definition of that would be with a hot, funny guy and not a sinister looking snake demon but as communications go, at least one of these parties is getting sated. Willow on the other hand is still annoyed for being deceived.

Saga Vasuki doesn’t seem all that bothered about Willow’s annoyance. She’s too busy with the flirty banter and seems genuinely surprised when Willow admits that she genuinely cannot get Buffy back herself. However it does seem that Saga was deceived herself so it’s not entirely her fault that Buffy is stuck in the future.

Still she does decide to help Willow out on the promise that once the rift is opened that Willow doesn’t look into it. I’m pretty sure there’s a terrific reason as to why Saga would demand such a promise but given how sketchy she comes across, I’d still want to know the real reason rather than just accepting her word at face value.

After that promise is hastily made, Willow disappears back into her own bedroom with Kennedy where it appears that the two of them also had sex around the same time. I’m sure a lot of people would envy Willow for being able to screw two women in different times/places but it does make relationship with Kennedy look questionable.

Given that Willow and Kennedy are not a massively shipped coupling, you do wonder if this is the beginning of the end for them. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The realist in me thinks we’ll never get Tara back but I’ve never hated Kennedy and I don’t like the idea of Willow having to whore herself even if it is allegedly for the greater good so to speak.

Dark Willow on the other hand is also equally hard to figure out. It’s clear that she wants to create a divide between Buffy and Fray but at the same time, her attitude towards Fray is rather friendly. She even patiently reminds Fray that she’s not a vampire and credits her with already knowing that.

However the discussion of her not being human could just be a commentary on the dark path she has revisited or a possibility that this Dark Willow might have some demonic properties about her. Another noteworthy part about this conversation is the fact that Willow notes the similarities between Fray and Buffy.

That being Dark Willow also quickly establishes that her and Harth have different ideas. Harth seemingly wants dominion whereas Dark Willow could simply be looking for revenge on Buffy. It also doesn’t help Dark Willow that she’s not running the big magic juice but she’s able to use something to convince Fray against Buffy.

Buffy meanwhile has managed to survive her lousy driving skills and even wonders about a certain van being parked but soon enough she encounters Fray’s older sister Erin. This was the girl who didn’t recognise last issue and also the one who felt like a dweeb for not knowing.

Erin’s a police officer but right now, she’s more worried about Fray’s whereabouts that in her frazzled mind she pulled a gun on Buffy. Buffy at least does the right thing by informing Erin that Fray took off during the middle of a lurk central before putting her foot in her mouth about Harth.

The best part is that both Buffy and Erin find some unsurprising common ground with each other. Both of them are able to chatter about being the law in their own ways and the both of them can relate to the annoyance of younger sisters. Mine is only six minutes younger than me (we’re twins) so it’s an amusing exchange between the two of them.

Perhaps it makes sense that Buffy would have an easier time relating to Erin that Fray. I even find Erin more sympathetic and interesting than Fray. Unfortunately for Buffy she ended up getting knocked out by Fray, who now thinks that turning on the blonde slayer will help her save the world.

It’s kind of sad that Erin had a role to play in this overall but I could see it coming upon repeat readings. The cliff hanger isn’t quite up there with Warren being revealed to be alive, Gigi about to get axe happy on Faith or poor Renee being murdered by Toru but it’s interesting enough.

Also in “Time Of Your Life Part 3”

The cover I got was with a Centaur Dawn who did seem to be drawn quite saucily or was that just me?

Buffy (to herself): “I created a race of slayers. To tip the scales, to beat back the darkness. To make the world better. But they’re not in the books. Not a mention. Nothing and the better world … turns out like this. Wow. Spoiler alert.”

Has Joss Whedon been watching Doctor Who’s “Silence In The Library”/“Forest Of The Dead”? I only say it because of a line from Dark Willow last issue and the spoiler comment.

Buffy: “Does any part of that sentence involve me beating something up?”
Fray: “Think so.”
Buffy: “Include me in.”

Willow: “Ken-Doll, do you trust me and know that I love you and I’m not a crazy person and what we do is for the greater good, cross your heart no backsies?”
Kennedy: “Duh. What we gotta do?”
Willow: “Frak.”

Given how much of an avowed Battlestar Galactica fan Joss Whedon has admitted to being, I’m surprised it’s taken him this long to reference it. It’s even more effective that it’s Willow who did as well.

Xander: “Bomb. Plus magic. Equals.”
Dawn: “Warren and Amy.”
Xander: “The Laurel and Hardy of being a dick.”
Dawn: “Man, I’d love to get those two under my hooves.”
Xander: “Amen.”

Gunther: “I was born in the gutter, boy. Not near, in. I have worked and killed and dodged or bought the laws till I control half of Haddyn and I have done it without even breathing air. Don’t think to out beast me.”
Harth: “You have it spun, Gunther. We’re of a kind. After all … lurks don’t breathe either.”

What exactly happened to Dark Willow to make her lose her magic? Did Twilight actually succeed in his aim to rid the world of magic?

Fray: “Summers, you drive like a Spaz!”
Buffy: “And that phrase stood the test of time?”

Willow: “I seem to be going.”
Saga Vasuki: “So brief a stay.”
Willow: “I’ll see you soon.”
Saga Vasuki: “Yes … do come again.”

This comic had some interesting ads in it, including one for Dragon Con 2008 which featured James Marsters.

Fray: “You wanna keep that hand?”
Dark Willow: “This is about as much magic as I can muster so don’t fret. I just need to show you something.”

Erin (re Buffy): “She just seems … Mel, what are we doing here?”
Fray: “What we do. Saving the world.”

The next issue is out on October 1st and then afterwards we’re back to a standalone one.

As this arc seems to move on, “Time Of Your Life Part 3” doesn’t offer a whole of progression. With one more issue left, we’ll need what exactly happened that turned the future into the bleak world we’ve become accustomed to.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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