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Buffy Season Eight: After These Messages, We'll Be Right Back

Buffy: "I just had the strangest dream. We were back in high school. And you were there. And you were there. And you were there."
Willow: "And Toto, too?"

Synopsis:

Buffy battles a variety of monsters, and isn't getting enough sleep. When she finally conks out in a big way (in Xander's bed), she wakes up back in her old bedroom in Sunnydale, and Joyce is yelling up the stairs that Buffy will be late for school. Buffy is understandably ecstatic that Joyce is alive. She hugs Dawn a lot, too. Dawn is much younger than we've ever seen her, because of course, she didn't exist back then. "Then" is obviously the latter part of season one.

In the halls of Sunnydale High, we get blasts from the past. Cordelia treats Willow like a total loser, Xander arrives and wipes out on his skateboard, Principal Snyder shows up and puts a damper on everything.

Cemetery at night. Buffy, Xander and Willow meet a grim and business-like Giles, who tells Buffy about the Disciples of Morgala -- vamps that worship, well, Morgala, whose true nature is unknown. Willow and Xander are more interested in Cordelia's "open party" that night. Buffy, while commenting to herself (and to some extent, out loud) on all of the changes that have taken place since, is very much getting into being her old self, putting teenage fun before slaying.

Big panel with Buffy in a huge cave taking out three master-like ancient vamps in long, green robes. Giles points out they were worshiping the image of a dragon (Morgala, I presume). Afterward, Buffy dresses for the party and endures cross-examination by Joyce, who is of course unaware of slayer issues and still thinking in terms of normal teenage stuff. On the way to the party, Buffy runs into Angel, and debates telling him about the future. Does she tell him not to have sex with her future self? Could she change her past? Angel mentions her defeat of the five disciples of Morgala. Um, five? Oops.

Back to the cave. Buffy, still determined to go to the party, slays the final two Disciples of Morgala, but too late to prevent the arrival of a really big dragon. A flying dragon, who takes off and flies over Sunnydale with Buffy stretched across its nose. (Is this the same dragon that's in the Angel comics? No, I don't think so. Hey, if you've seen one cartoon dragon, you've seen them all.) Buffy loses her shoe and it flies through the air and lands on Cordelia, at the party Buffy is missing.

Buffy figures out that to defeat Morgala, she must remove the jewel in his forehead, which she does. Morgala pops out of existence, and Buffy hits tree branches on her way down. When she hits the ground, she's back in the present, and Xander is still trying to get her out of bed. Willow and Centaur Dawn are also there. Buffy does her impression of Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz.

Review:

The moral of the story? The past wasn't all that much better. Or nothing has really changed. Or maybe, you can't go home again. Buffy still had to miss all the fun in order to save the world, and she knew she couldn't tell Angel about their future. It was a mildly poignant acknowledgment that there is still no way out for Buffy; she's trapped in a role that she can't even escape in her dreams.

It's pretty clear that this imaginary flashback takes place near the end of season one, probably after "The Puppet Show" (that introduced Snyder) and before "Prophecy Girl." Joyce doesn't know Buffy is a slayer. Willow's hair is very long and she's wearing overalls. The wit is a bit simpler, also more like season one.

This issue really clicked in the nostalgia for me. It's been a long time since the first season of Buffy, and our characters have changed so much. It was like getting a break from season eight, as well. I wonder if that was a smart way for the writers to go, since all it did was remind me of how much I miss my favorite show. Why couldn't the new show in February be called Faith instead of Dollhouse? Yeah, I know. You can't go home again.

Bits and pieces:

-- The cover shows present day Buffy, Willow and Xander sitting on the floor watching a more cartoony Buffy on television. The flashback panels were drawn a lot more cartoony than the present day panels. The characters weren't as well-defined back in season one, so that sort of fit.

-- Xander has only been seen on a skateboard once, in "Welcome to the Hellmouth." Having Snyder take it away from Xander for the entire school year is a sort of retro explanation as to why we never saw the skateboard again.

-- Dream Buffy is wearing the cross Angel gave her in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

-- This issue was dedicated to 17-year-old Sam Loeb, who died of cancer in 2005.

Quotes:

Buffy: "And Dawny! You're not a giant or a centaur or a monkey robot! You're just little. Really, really... when were you ever this little?"
Dawn: "Mom! Buffy's on drugs!"

Buffy: "So what if I have to take algebra again? At least this time I know it'll have zero value when I grow up."

Buffy: "Look at it this way, Xander. Maybe someday Snyder will get eaten by a huge, ginormous snake, and you'll wear an eye patch and be in charge of lots of women."
Xander: "Really? Like a pirate? Can I be like a space pirate, with an alien dog?"
(Had to get the dog mention in there somewhere.)

Buffy: "Oh, that's right. You like... and you're not... well, you probably are... but not..."
Willow: "I'm not what?"
Buffy: "Yikes. Open mouth, insert whole body."

Buffy: "So this is turning into my own private Pleasantville. Without the black and white and the Witherspoon." Just fyi, I wrote a review of Pleasantville. It's one of my favorite fantasy movies. And it had several Buffy actors in it.

Buffy: "We found the followers of Morgan Freeman!"

Xander: "This is Xander Harris at the Bufflympics, and it's a beautiful night for slaying. Buffy cartwheeled that last coffin, and really did nicely on the dismount."

Buffy: (to the dragon she's riding) "Oh, come on. Is this the best you can do? I've been on better rides at Disneyland, and I'm talking teacups."

Most of these stand-alone issues have been better than the four-parters. That's unfortunate, because I like a longer story. Three out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

6 comments:

  1. Hey, I'm so glad we have a way to comment on the reviews now!

    Anyway, did you know this issue was based on the pilot of the Buffy Animated Series that never came to be? You may already be aware of that, but I noticed that you didn't mention it.

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  2. I liked this issue very much. Like Billie, I usually prefer the long arcs but I find the single issue stories to be much better. I actually followed the story this time and enjoyed the throw back to season one with Buffy referencing future events and her trademark name mulching (Morgan Freeman). It achieved the tone of the TV series and was light and fun. Also, for the first time, the drawing of Buffy on the cover actually looked like SMG. In all previous issues, I required context to identify Buffy (Willow, while not looking all that much like Alyson is easier to identify and Xander's eye patch and Dawn as the only giant/horse girl were easy). The rendering never resembled SMG, just some blonde girl.
    Re: Pleasantville, I thought the first 3/4 of the movie were excellent but then they ruined it by turning a delightfull fantasy into a moral tale about discrimination and freedom of expression. It was like two completely different movies. It seemed they had this really nice script going and then they got close to the end and said "Oh no, this isn't profound enough. Must preach!" But the Witherspoon was good (although I liked Election better).

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  3. I know absolutely nothing about the animated series, so thanks for the info, BrokenRobot.

    Peter, you have a point -- the end of Pleasantville wasn't my favorite part of the movie. I still loved it, though.

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  4. If you havnt already seen the promo for the animated series : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mnUvZP7-5LM

    You might recognise some of the scipt ;)

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  5. Love the Buffy comics and love Billie's reviews of them!

    A clarfication I think is needed on this issue:
    I think you misunderstand the intent of Buffy's conversation with Angel - I don't think she wondered if she should tell Angel about their future - or better non-future together. After all, part of her realizes that this is a dream and therefore it's just a dream-Angel. She is trying to figure out if she should tell Willow about the future dark Willow she has encountered. And in the back-awake-in-the-present conclusion we see her taking dream-Angel's advice to not tell Willow because of unforseeable consequences...
    Telltale that this is about Willow and Buffy's knowledge (about future dark Willow), fear (that future dark Willow might come to pass) and regret (that she had to kill her) on the subject: all the hugging and babbling about Willow's presence and "Normality" (not dark, not killed by Buffy, etc.) in both her dream world and her rel present world.
    whaddayathink?

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  6. The cover of this issue was one of the 1st images I saw of the series. I noticed then taht Xander, whose name I didn't know, wore an eyepatch. When I started watching the series, and from episode one, everytime Xander got close to danger I cringed thinking "That's it! That's how he loses his eye!". Seven seasons of agony later, it happened when I least expected.

    I think he does look good in his eyepatch.

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