Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine: Freefall, Part I


“Gonna freefall out into nothing.

  Gonna leave this world for awhile.”

---Tom Petty, “Freefallin’”

Either I’m getting older or more curmudgeonly or my recent gray hairs are affecting me more than I’d like to admit, but I just can’t seem to relate with Buffy’s drunken night of the Schnapps’ much.

I’ve known of stuff like this, obviously. When you’ve attended college, how can you not? But I’ve never been in a situation where I had no recollection of what I’d done the night before. I have, however, had plenty of drunken regrets. Commenting loudly on impressive mammary size and such.

So to be honest, I was never really drawn into Buffy’s plight. Her mid twenty-something ennui and flailing about has grown kind of tiresome for me, I suppose. I expect better from her at this point. It’s to Whedon’s credit that the issue makes this clear. Buffy is having internal monologues about her guilt and the dread. But at a certain point, it’s a mark of maturity that you vent these feelings. She should know better by now about keeping things locked up inside. Season Six is practically a warning manual about how darkness left unresolved can fester and eat away at you.

It’s one of those cases where I appreciate what the issue did on a macro level more than a micro. To me this is a mirroring to what Angel’s doing at his own issue. He’s working to erase the guilt by erasing the death. Making it so the death mightn’t have actually occurred. Just a small blip before normalcy is restored---a normalcy on his own terms.

For Buffy it’s guilt avoidance the old-fashioned way: consuming mass quantities and living la vida loca. Maybe this says more about me than I’d like to think, but I figured that Buffy after getting back to her badassness at the end of Season Eight would go overboard in investigating what’s coming to get her. Working herself to an isolated exhaustion overcompensating for having a hand in Giles’s death and wiping magic off the face of the earth. I would have empathized with that more, I think, because she’s still being the hero. There comes a point where you keep hearing the “normal girl” yearning that it seems like a broken record.

So instead my main interest is in the background stuff. SFPD investigating strange murders. I love Emmie’s theory about vampires getting desoulled at death. It’s like a dark, matter-of-fact inverse of the Shanshu. If it is coming, I expected the comic book version of dulcet choirs of angels and trumpets blaring. The Buffyverse coming of the New Jerusalem. So color me intrigued at such a grisly spin on this. What might this mean for Spike?

I love how Simone will be back to spread her Uber-Slayer gospel. She’s no longer just a punk, troublemaker Slayer. Slayer Genosha’s turned her into Slayer Guevara.

Yet while these stories took precedence over the human drama, it’s a likely bet that the dynamics of the Scoobs will play a significant part.



In terms of the issue, I think Ockhaming this is the best approach for now. One of the frustrating things for me was how open-ended this issue was about things. It’s one thing if you’re compelled as a reader to find out what’s going out getting to the heart of the mystery. But I just couldn’t make myself care very much.

Whom did Buffy sleep with?!!!!!! Was it A: Xander? B: Riley? C. Spike? D: Buffy’s scruffy boss? E: Andrew???? or F: Cartman’s Mom????!!!!!!

Dial 1-900-BUFFY to call in your pick and we’ll reveal the winner in next month’s issue!!! Kids, be sure to get your parents’ permission!!!! Excelsior!!!!!

So right now I think it’s just a whole lot of guilt and anger and not having way of releasing it productively. It reminds me of Dead Man’s Party a while helluvalot. Friendly smiles and good times, but below the surface just a lot of turbulent thoughts and feelings. Anger beginning to turn inward. Depression.

But I admit the temptation is there. There’s a single panel that provides a close-up of Buffy gently touching Xander’s arm. Usually something focused in on like that presupposes some kind of intimacy of a physical nature. I actually thought that Buffy and Xander would have bonded physically after the death of their respective lovers. But I can also see this happening after Giles’s death pretty easily, actually.

As for Dawn there’s not enough to go on at this moment. We’ll see what comes up as the season progresses.



I honestly find the idea that Buffy seduced Xander or Riley pretty reprehensible, but they are adults after all. At least in the physical sense. Still I doubt Whedon would ever bring Buffy down that low.

What intrigues me most is another comparison between Spike and Riley. This is the third time. In Season Five both were suitors for Buffy’s affections and both knew that Buffy didn’t love them. In Season Six in the episode, As You Were, Riley tells Buffy she’s a “helluva woman.” Spike tells her the same thing Season Seven in Touched. This time it’s a pep speech that bonds the two. And this time, Buffy acknowledges it much to Riley’s chagrin.

Now as for why? I got nothing. So I pose this as a question to you, BuffyTube. What’s the significance of Spike and Riley being compared as they are?



Of the pairings, this is the one storywise I was most excited about given how Season Eight ended. I think we’re seeing a public persona Willow and a private Willow duality. Willow gives off one vibe (sexy!!!!!) while in public whereas while not angry at Buffy, she is displeased with how blasé Buffy is about the whole thing.

Again shades of Dead Man’s Party. Buffy and Willow have arguably the ugliest confrontation in that episode. It’s funny how Spike might be the mediator if one were to use that word, but he spends it brilliantly mocking both of their immaturity. Adult conversation dressed up in ending with unnecessary “-y” sentences.

We’ll see how long Willow can keep up with appearances.



Once again, the start of Season Nine leaves me as frustrated as Season Eight. At first, I was overjoyed to see that Spike got invited to the pratty. Finally! Finally, an acknowledging of friendship. Of happiness being in his presence. Of happiness of having him back in her life.

It also kicked my ass to see how Spike actually enjoyed the party. He didn’t hound Buffy all night as he did that one never-ending birthday. He made friends with people. And he’s perhaps smart enough to know that as drunk or stoned as everyone was, no one’s going to remember any shit anyone tells you so why not say that yes, I am a vampire and I live on a ship with bugs.

A Dirigible of Insects debut album I Am a Vampire. In stores now!

That being said he didn’t forget his true purpose for being there. Warning Buffy. Focusing her. Getting her on task. I love that as much of a good time as he had (too good, perhaps) he didn’t lose sight of the mission. But he also wasn’t going to do her job for her.

That’s the thing. Angel came by with his cryptic stuff, too. But Buffy got the Scoobs together, investigated into the sitch, and the Vampire Slayer went to thwart the evil. Buffy hasn’t even gotten past stage one yet. She might need the twelve steps pretty soon, though, the rate she’s going.

Stalky the clown. I was glad Spike took it in stride because I didn‘t appreciate Buffy‘s schizoid snarking very much. I loved his little grin like “God, I’ve missed this!” I love again that he’s basically merciless when it comes to puncturing a hole in time-tested Billow tradition by pointing up the absurdities of their childish mannerisms. It’s like I read on a Buffy board once. There’s a time when it’s not cute anymore. So hopefully Buffy will take a surly hint and mutter something about stalking vampires being completely useless anyway, and then….speak like a fucking adult going forward.

And in a sense that’s what happened at the end. Buffy dismisses vague warnings and then the Student Loan demon shows up. Not the warning Spike meant, I’m sure. But still a tip of the iceberg portent if ever there was one.  And that’s when Buffy drops her childish act. She can sense the “Toldja” coming right around the corner from him and she heads it off at the pass with her adult cursing. Not another fucking word. I get it. Now shut up.

I laughed my ass off, too. After I read that, I’m not as apprehensive about the Spuffy as I was before. Come what may, it’ll be fun to see these two together again.

One moment of wordplay that was  absolutely brilliant. It’s the one I keep coming back to. Buffy combines the words Buffy and blossoming to form “bluffoming.” Funny itself but linguistically it nails the coffin. Buffy is bluffing her way through life right now. Trying to fool everyone about dealing with the ramifications of her actions until she can hopefully start fooling herself. She’s also bluffing herself into thinking she’s blossoming. If she doesn’t come to terms with what happened with Angel, with Giles, and with the Seed she’ll continue to freefall out into nothing.

Yeah, sure, when I pseudo-intellectualize like that, of course, I can fool myself into thinking I enjoyed it. And I did in that insubstantial way. But I want more. I expect more. And now that the bullshitting is finally out of the way, it’s time for this season to crank into gear and for Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer hero, to truly blossom into the powerful woman she already is. .

One down, 24 to go.

















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Comment by cil domney on December 15, 2011 at 10:40pm

Great review and commentary on the status of all the character - what I keep getting back to with the destruction of the Seed is was Buffy's great failure not so much the destruction of The Seed but not going in for the Kill against TwiAngel?  Why did Joss Whedon specifically have Giles tell Xander that Buffy was still going with the let's save Angel if it were not going to have huge ramifications beyond even Giles' death?   One has to wonder what is really going on in her mind about all the events and the part she played in those events by her acceptance of Angel's sweet temptations.  Does she acknowledge what Giles' words to Xander imply - did she see Angel and fight from that weakened position against the mortal enemy of all human world?  I'm I giving too much importance to Giles' statement about her battle against TwiAngel and were they only a way to get Giles into the position to be killed? 

To me,  it seems like an extremely important part of her story and one that needs to be answered if Buffy is ultimately going to evolve as a woman and a heroic leader and model.  Would the destruction of The Seed never have had to occur had Buffy never allowed herself the distraction of thinking of Angel at all when fighting against TwiAngel?  Perhaps it was never intended to be of any significance in the Giles death and destruction of The Seed scenario - but I can't help thinking that Buffy's huge mistake was allowing her history with Angel to influence her in the most important fight of her life. 

As for the Buffy needing to find herself and learn how to live an integrated life as a normal human woman and a Slayer - I weary of that storyline as a premise.  If it is not an obvious fact to Buffy and all those who have worked with her that she can never live as a normal human, I can't imagine what more evidence is needed.  Buffy has not been a normal human since she became the Slayer.



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Posted by cil domney on June 25, 2017 at 11:30am — 26 Comments

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