Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x28: "Retreat Part 3"

Written by Jane Espenson
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Andrew: “If there is a spy among us, I will find him or her. Or it. The puppy has always struck me as a little bit dodgy and it would be a great disguise. And no one will suspect why I’m documenting our little community, because, because I have a history of this kind of thing.”

Yeah and for all we know, it could be Andrew who is the secret mole in the group. Seriously, “Storyteller” again? Oh well if something works well enough first time around, there’s no reason why it can’t be used again.

Andrew’s still not the best character in this series and the writers adoration of him is something that I can’t fathom but I promise that this review won’t devolve into an Andrew bashing one. That’s mainly because there’s actually a lot in this issue that really gripped me.

I can understand the pros and cons for the slayers to return their power to the Earth or whatever it really is that they’re trying to do. Unfortunately the cons are just sticking out more and more for me as a reader. I should say that Buffy and company thought of a worse time to actually do this but that can always be countered with a ‘would there be a good time to do it?’ response.

The answer to that question would be no. Clearly, apart from the fact that removing the magic from within the slayers and Willow now makes them as vulnerable as any non powered human, there’s also the fact that the girls in question aren’t being given a choice in the matter.

Granted they didn’t choose to become slayers either but does stripping them off their power really help matters? It’s not Twilight and his gang are devoid of their own supernatural tricks. I just can’t help but think that by doing this, Buffy is going to end up seriously regretting it in the long run.

Throughout the issue we did see many of the girls doing manual labour and grumbling about how being just human was now a disadvantage. It also didn’t help that Andrew kept waving his camera in their faces as well. Geez, Andrew perhaps a little subtlety on that one.

The best conversation from a slayer perspective on this new outcome was seeing Buffy and Faith interact. Out of the slayers, they are the two who could recognise being normal as more of a good thing. They’ve been through a lot more than the other girls and Faith did sound relieved at the idea of not having that kind of strength.

It was nice to see Buffy and Faith bond on this kind of level. The fact that there’s been civility between them this whole arc is a great thing but as much as they might enjoy being unburdened, they shouldn’t get too used to the idea. They’re gonna need all the strength, natural or super when Twilight figures out where everyone has been hiding for this arc.

The other great conversation came during Buffy and Xander’s alone time scene. The fact that Buffy felt the splinter was supposed to show readers that she gaining some of her humanity back or at least opening up some more. It’s hard not to love a more open Buffy compared to the closed off woman who’s dominated later seasons of the series.

One person who definitely wasn’t enthusiastic in the slightest about losing her powers was Willow. The fact that Willow saw herself as magical and admitting that to Oz should support the fact that her being stripped of power could be a good thing. Her eyes even flared black when she accused Oz of being a fake.

She can disagree with him all she likes and show that she’s scary but you gotta love Oz during this issue. He told her everything she needed to hear and entrusted her to look after Kelden. Oz really can’t do wrong, can he? Tibet and Bay have been more than good for him.

Willow’s searching for something – a baby, normalcy, etc. Can she and Kennedy achieve without their powers or even together? You’ve got to notice there’s been very little interaction between the two of them or even Kennedy with Oz come to think of it. I’m not saying it as an anti-shipper but I do wonder if Willow and Kennedy actually have a future together.

The same sentiment can now also be echoed for Xander and Dawn. Buffy walking in on them kissing might have been shocking for her but not for me. The writers have teased this long enough and given that Dawn is an adult, it’s not actually inappropriate what she and Xander are doing. However I don’t know whether I’m for or against this hook up, even though I like both characters. I guess we’ll have to wait and see with this one.

As for Andrew, his documenting skills played a good part of this episode. He wanted to find out if there was a mole and fair play, he did make the effort. It was funny that he considered the idea of the puppy when that suspicious looking cat was constantly going around in virtually every scene.

Needless to say when the gang did realise it was the cat, it disappeared. No doubt this was Amy, which means that Twilight won’t be far behind. Having seen the covers for the next two issues, Buffy and the gang are so screwed. Still for all the recent negativity surrounding these comics, things are picking up.

One last nugget in this episode – Willow finding out that Buffy killed her in the future. I loved the way Willow turned the situation on its head by taking the angst out of Buffy having to tell her. It was never going to be an easy thing for Buffy to confess but Xander was right in encouraging Buffy to come clean. Willow promising to do her level best to stay on the right however will not be easy for her.

Also in “Retreat Part 3”

The cover of Buffy and Willow meditating while Giles kept a watchful eye on them is one of Jo Chen’s stylish covers.

Giles: “This had better be a demon attack.”
Andrew: “It is.”
Giles: “It is?”
Andrew: “Well, it could turn into one.”
Giles: “Go to bed.”
Andrew: “No you don’t understand … there’s a spy in our midst.”

Andrew’s increased his geeky collection with a bust from Hellboy and Aliens as well as a Storm Trooper hoodie.

Andrew: “Tell us about the giving up of magicks, Oz’s exotic mate, Bayarmaa.”
Bayarmaa: “It’s not about ‘giving up’ the magic. It’s about redirecting the energy into the Earth instead of holding on to it. If you are really at peace, the boundary between you and Earth melts away.”

Faith: “You miss what we’re giving up, don’t you?”
Buffy: “You don’t?”
Faith: “It got to me. What we had to do. What I had to do. I’m not strong enough to have to be that strong. Good riddance.”

Who was the red head that was threatening Andrew (not that I blame her)? It didn’t look like Leah or Willow as far as I could tell.

Dawn: “How do you know? That’s what it says on Claymores but maybe the Chinese label the other side?”
Xander: “Humans point to the danger, not the safe. It’s a thing about humans.”
Dawn: “Maybe we should point to the safe sometime.”

Buffy: “What big secret would that be?”
Xander (re Willow): “The one I heard you tell Giles on the submarine because I was listening. About killing her in the future.”
Buffy: “What – what if telling her makes her evil?”
Xander: “What if not telling her makes her evil?”

Weapons wise, the Scoobies seem to have landmines and rocket launchers, so they at least a bit of an advantage. Loved Andrew’s little Dark Willow drawings as well.

Willow (to Buffy, re future death): “Sorry, because I know you meant this to be all dramatic and cleansy, and I know it must’ve been terrible for you. But that … if it was a possible me, I don’t think it still is.”

Next issue, “Retreat Part 4” is out on October 7th.

Niggles aside, I still think that this arc is a step in the right direction. “Retreat Part 3” definitely had a lot to recommend in it and although it’s taking a while, at least we know that the next two issues are going to brim with plenty of chaos when Twilight and his gang descend on Tibet.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

1 comment:

Nat said...

I like seeing Oz back, he's one of the few 'good' Buffy characters still alive and not on Angel. Plus he's one of my favourite characters so I'm always going to be pleased to see him.

Not really liking the Xander/Dawn hook-up. By reading your reviews, I wasn't surprised when I read of them kissing, but its a bit icky; he's always been a big brother to her, especially seeing as they have more memories of that type of relationship even if they're not real. Hope the relationship doesn't go much further.