Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x30: "Retreat Part 5"

Written by Jane Espenson
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Buffy: “The goddesses. They’re not on our side.”
Willow: “What? We – they --”
Buffy: “They’re not on anyone’s side, they’re killers and we’re not getting our powers back. We didn’t bring help. We brought death.”

And this is how you make a dire situation ten times worse – summon three unhinged goddesses who’ll happily kill everything and anything in their way. Goddesses are clearly never going to be a benevolent force on this show. Buffy just made her outcome even worse than she already had inadvertently done.

At first it did look like everything was moving in their favour. The goddesses arrived and started despatching most of Twilight’s soldiers. Then it started in on the slayers as well. As allies went, the goddesses were a very poor choice.

I knew there was going to be consequences for the slayers surrendering their power to the Earth but this was just devastating. Completely powerless, they were barely able to defend themselves from both Twilight and the goddesses and in the end, the most predictable of outcome happened – they lost.

The last scene with the majority of them being rounded up proved that sometimes, the villains do win. Twilight effectively just waited for the dust to settle to snare the survivors and what he plans to do with them is something we won’t be finding out until the New Year.

Twilight’s motives in this one were strange enough, I’ll grant you. He was pretty unfazed when he realised that Riley had double crossed him and while he’s probably tiring of Amy and Warren’s constant bickering, he was also perfectly happy to walk away and let them squabble amongst themselves like a bunch of children.

Then there was sacrificing his soldiers. That didn’t sit too well with the commander guy that was begging Twilight to let him pull his men out of the fight. But at the same time, was it shocking that Twilight was interested in seeing what the goddesses could do to the men? Not for one second.

That might end up coming back to haunt Twilight in future issues. If he’s too willing to sacrifice his men on a whim then I can see the soldiers turning on him. Twilight might be clever but he’s also been dependent on the government as well as Amy, Warren and Riley to pull off some of his schemes so far. What happens when one of them decides that they don’t really need Twilight in order to best Buffy once and for all?

Speaking of someone not being needed, Warren really was made to feel like the Zeppo of the bunch in this issue, wasn’t it? I absolutely loved Amy for her sheer belittlement of Warren, who’s out and out misogyny underlines a little man syndrome if ever there was one. He really is threatened that Amy is cleverer than him and not mightily impressed with her constantly reminding him that she’s his skin.

I’m hoping by the end of this comic season that Warren is permanently killed off because although there was the initial shock of his return earlier on in the series, the writers haven’t actually utilised him all that much and it’s pretty apparent in this issue alone that Twilight and Amy see him as neither use, nor ornament as well. Plus, no-one would actually miss Warren either, so there’s another valid reason why Amy should finish what Willow started.

She already perceptively pointed out that Warren’s plan of tricking Andrew at the start of this arc was ridiculous. It was ridiculous, in the same way that Warren attempting to undermine Twilight when the latter realised that Riley was working for Buffy all along. I guess we should’ve seen that coming. I’m glad that Riley isn’t a bad guy.

That being said, Riley didn’t fare all that much better in the story either. Like Bay, he’s alive but also seriously injured and at this point in time, probably captured as well. He had some nice little moments with Buffy and the gang but even during his time undercover, he still wasn’t able to come up with anything to help the gang stop Twilight.

However the biggest talking point of the entire story are the goddesses. Seemingly because of them, everyone is still powerless and that’s something that Twilight is going to delight in no doubt but the strangest moment was when one of them grabbed Buffy and then dropped her to the ground without a second thought.

By rights, Buffy should’ve been dead from this. Instead she rose from the snow and watched as the goddesses continued their rampage through Tibet. Thinking about it, this probably means that Buffy now has everyone’s powers to boot, including Willow’s. Sucks for everyone else, but will Buffy be able to mentally handle all of that power surging through her?

Also in “Retreat Part 5”

Adam Hughes cover for this issue is gorgeous. Buffy in a blizzard, which got added into the issue itself for good measure.

Warren: “It didn’t have to get to this point. I was working on Andrew. He was buying it. If you’d let me continue -”
Amy: “Your whole plan didn’t even make sense – The First tempted him before, not you, and you are no The First.”
Warren: “But the whole we-are-as-gods thing was totally getting to him! I mean, just look out there! Gods are a big deal.”

The fact that Amy knows that The First tempted Andrew as Warren was a good indicator that she did have ties to it in Season Seven.

Bayaarma: “They shouldn’t have come here.”
Oz: “Who? Buffy and everyone? Or the goddesses?”
Bayaarma: “We gave them everything.”

Amy: “Buffy’s in that jeep. Where’s she going?”
Warren: “Why don’t I have binoculars?”
Twilight: “The goddesses almost killed them.”

Maybe it was due to the severity of what was going on, but Buffy was less agitated with Xander in this issue.

Bayaarma (re goddesses): “It’s been too long since we shared the surface with them. They don’t recognise the ones who feed them.”
Kennedy: “Are we going to get our powers back?”
Faith: “No.”

Buffy: “Hang on.”
Riley: “People always say that when someone’s hurt really badly, but I don’t think it helps.”

Dark Horses are doing some one shots with Dr Horrible and Sugar Shock for all you Joss Whedon fans out there.

Amy: “Shut up, Warren.”
Warren: “Stop cutting me down!”
Twilight: “We can’t trust anyone anymore. Tell me -”
Warren: “You’re the least supportive girlfriend ever!”
Amy: “I’m your skin.”
Warren: “Oh, you always have to go there!”

Buffy (re being able to fly): “What the hell?!”

Next issue, a one shot called “Willow” is due out on December 23rd.

As arcs end, this one is definitely something of a traditional cliff hanger. “Retreat Part 5” does move beautifully and it’s certainly the best issue from the entire arc. But I’m hoping that by this time 2010, all of the events leading up to this will pay off spectacularly.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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