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Buffy Season Eight: The Chain

Unknown Slayer: "Did I get the hardest, darkest path to walk 'cause I'm strong, I'm good, I can handle the burden? Or am I weak, expendable, the one that won't be missed?"


Down in the underworld, Yamanh of Hoht proclaims that he has killed Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And it certainly looks as though the body he is holding above his head is Buffy. But it's not; it's one of the two Buffy doubles mentioned in part one of "The Long Way Home."

We never do learn her name. I'll call her the Unknown Slayer.

Much of this episode consists of flashbacks to how the Unknown Slayer became a slayer, how she became Buffy's double, and how she died down in the underworld to prevent Yamanh and his army from invading the world above, which was her assignment.

She was Called in high school just in time to save the lives of her friends. She saw a silly television commercial starring Andrew and Vi, which brought her into Buffy's organization. She trained. She fought her first battle, which was almost her last; she was bitten by a vamp in the exact same place that Angel bit Buffy.

She was recruited by Rona to double Buffy, told to dye her hair blonde and pad her bra, and to tell no one, above or below, what she was doing. She did what she was told, and more; she united the Ravenclan (little brunette faeries resembling Tinkerbell) and the Leaf-blower Slime Things in opposition to Yamanh, and led them into battle. And she died like a hero, never even knowing that her sister slayers were coming for her.


Poignant. Which was the point.

When she was Called, the Unknown Slayer and her friends were sitting around a picnic table (very reminiscent of Buffy, Willow and Xander) complaining that they had been assigned detention for something they hadn't done. In a sense, becoming a slayer was like the detention. It was imposed upon her; she did nothing to bring it on to herself.

Perhaps she wasn't the best and the brightest. The flashbacks to her advent (where she saved her friends but was also hit by a truck) and to her first battle (where she was bitten and had to be saved by other slayers) hinted that perhaps she was indeed the cannon fodder she suspected that she was.

But in the end, she rose to the occasion. She fought heroically to the death, believing that no one would ever know what she did. She saved the world. The power of a name, of Buffy's name, was mentioned more than once. Was it Buffy's name that gave her the power to prevail, the strength to die for humanity? I don't think so. The point of the story was that she also did it for herself. We may never know who she was, this girl who saved us all, but she knew. And that was enough.

This was a strong and moving story. Yes, it was like an episode carried by a guest star we didn't know, but I don't think that mattered. In the space of just a few pages, I grew to care about her. That's pretty powerful writing, folks.

Bits and pieces:

-- "The Chain" was what links all slayers together going back to the first one. When she was Called, the Unknown Slayer felt this chain of slayers, and it was a profound experience for her. Her defining moment, as it were.

-- The Unknown Slayer never met Buffy.

-- The leaf-blower slime thing and its babies, or whatever, reminded me of the ones in Slither, which starred Nathan Fillion. I think that was intentional.

-- The television commercial frames had "LOCAL KCUU38" at the bottom right.

-- There was a one-page ad, with Joss Whedon, for Equality Now.

-- The cover (the one Dan got, anyway) had the Unknown Slayer looking like Buffy, with her hand at her own throat, about to pull off her mask.


Vi: "There's a support group?"
Andrew: "That's right! Just dial 1-800-CHOSEN-1 to meet girls who have this alarming yet fun condition."

Unknown Slayer: "I've never been to Rome." Someone I loved who died (my sister) used to say something similar; she used to say, "I'll never get to go to Paris." And she didn't. The Unknown Slayer will never get to travel, will never see the world.

Unknown Slayer: "You have to stand together. And that includes the Ravenclan and the... that thing that looks like a leaf-blower."

Mike: "Who the hell are you?" We see this frame more than once because that's the point.

Unknown Slayer: "I tried to face the darkness like a woman and I don't need any more than that. You don't have to remember me. You don't even know who I am. (pause) But I do."

I think an issue this good deserves four out of four stars,

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

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