Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine: Freefall, Part II

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine: Freefall, Part II


The second issue picks up where the last one left. It’s somehow appropriate. As much as it’s kind of surreal that Buffy has to face off against a Debt Collector Demon, it’s still a demon after all and it’s still Buffy. So, of course, Buffy’s gonna kill the demon.

But as is becoming apparent, Buffy is gonna have to rethink some things and her place in them. After all, it may be a demon but it’s just doing its job. Nothing personal. Nothing malicious. So like any of us, Buffy is just gonna have to deal with it.

Jeanty did a really good job with making the poor guy pathetic. I almost wanted Buffy to pay him just so he could go back with something. And eventually she did, so props for that. I suppose if I were younger I’d sympathize with her situation right now. But it’s like I tell my younger friends, eventually it all comes down to getting the bills paid and getting the debts taken care of. That’s just life.

Still for every regression in Freefall, Part Deus there was also progress. But it’s also  to-and-fro the growing doth go. Step forward. Step back. Step forward. And so on and so forth.

Step forward: She is not overreacting to Spike’s overtures. I flashed back to a similar moment in “Life Serial” where Spike is gently leading Buffy away from the demon poker table and she bats her hand off. This time she lets Spike lead her away from the demon to counsel her.

I think it’s for two reasons. One is that before she was highly aware of the physical attraction between the two of them so any touching would be considered permissible and she wanted to make it clear to him that it was not. And the other is because he was soulless, unclean, and disgustingly evil so naturally she doesn’t want to be touched by him.
This time , at least from each other’s perspective, there are no romantic overtures, and Spike is all clean and soulful now. So Buffy takes this as it was probably intended. Spike offering friendly, sage words of advice. And eventually she takes his advice.

With an assist from Willow, of course. Though there is very definitely a significant step back when the Seed comes up again.

I didn’t side with Buffy over Willow here or vice versa. I think they’re each coming from the destruction of the Seed from two different perspectives. Willow thinks Buffy had time to think about what she was doing, while Buffy knows that it was just emotional instinct. But Buffy doesn’t want to revisit that traumatizing moment. But she eventually came to grips with sending Angel to Hell, so I’m thinking that it won’t stay bottled up for long.

After all, when you have demons left loose thanks to your actions, you tend to focus on these things whether you want to or not.

I thought that this would be spearheaded by the death of Tumble because--as cruel as this sounds--I thought that Buffy needed one more death on her head to get her head back in the Slay. Turns out it’s a lot simpler than that and kind of appropriate for being on the streets of San Francisco.

Some readers had a problem with Buffy’s calm and collected attitude with the police, considering this is her first time in the box, as it were. But this isn’t the first time Buffy’s had a run-in with the authorities and, of course, we Buffy fans love how much she doesn’t let authority figures faze her. If she can handle Principal Snyder, the Initiative, the Watchers’ Council, and anti-terrorism forces to boot, she can certainly handle the SFPD. Lest we forget she was pretty dismissive of Giles at first in the beginning, too. Bureaucratic institutions who continually just get in her way and are way over their heads.

At one time that might have been true. But it no longer applies. The human brain is remarkably resilient in the face of reality altering events. The human race has gotten kind of used to vampiric existence now that when a rookie cop pitches a Mulderesque idea of victim vampires to his more Scully partner, it’s at least within the realm of plausibility.
Buffy is under the impression that the police can’t help her. That they will just get in her way like every other institution has failed her. But frankly they know more about this vampire-as-common-knowledge world than she does. She’s been isolated in Scottish castles with her Slayer army all this time.

So Buffy takes a huge step back when she falls back on her isolationist Slayer crap at the most inopportune time when she’s wanted for murder. But, you know, been there done that, I guess. The next bit is a bit more ambiguous.
Like Buffy’s chat with Willow, I can see where both sides are coming from. Buffy needs a place to crash but she’s failing to take being a wanted fugitive seriously. She also fails to notice that Xander and Dawn are having relationship issues and need to sort them out. Sounds kind of small potatoes next to the police hunting you, but to paraphrase Buffy a bit if love makes you do the wacky then falling out of love makes you desperate. Maybe the sitch is a bit more serious then it appears. Maybe it’s just a lover’s spat. Who knows? But sometimes love comes before family.
Besides they’re trying for the normal. In some cases, probably not as successfully as when the abnormal was the norm, but, you know, you do what you can when you love someone.

Even when it appears all you do isn’t appreciated very much.

Here’s the thing to remember about Buffy and her past lovers. She’s gonna have a different dynamic with each of them. So whatever dynamic she has with Angel she won’t have with Riley. With those two it’s probably a bit more on the sincere side (with some reassuring words for insecure Riley.)

Spike and Buffy on the other hand love to snark and get their sarcasm on. That’s just how they do. Within this, though, is Buffy lamenting about not losing her powers with the Seed’s destruction. The more she tried to change things, the more everything remained the same. She’s still the Slayer. There are still vampires.

But Spike is not Angel. This isn’t a case of Buffy feeling despair beyond despair lying in a fetal position in an abandoned house. This is Buffy, frankly, whining about what she always does. O cruel life! How I wish the Slayer cup would pass from me and that I may be a normal coffeehouse girl, but alas I must do battle with the forces of darkness yet again. O Cruel Life!

But Spike won’t even give her the luxury of lamenting along with her. He reminds her, not unkindly, that he’d be dead also---”Hello? Vampire?”--- and jokes that she wouldn’t be as fun. In essence he deflates her Woe-is-me bit. Cry me a river and sing me a new song. Yeah, Slayer?

Because now Buffy gets back in snarky mode. She’s matching him. Giving just as good as she’s getting. She returns the volley and adds cheekily that she’d probably miss him, too. Both of them are teasing each other. That’s just how they do. She doesn’t literally mean she might miss him or might not. I kind of saw it in my mind as Buffy adding “But I’d probably miss you.” in a slightly lower tone. Similar to her “Sometimes” in Dead Things. But with a small smile of affection.

This is why, for me, it helps to read the comic out loud. Because in that action I can try to duplicate how the characters would sound. It provides context. There is nothing in the story thus far giving me reason to believe that Buffy would be ambivalent at best if she were to lose Spike.

Which leads me to this. Unless given a reason to believe otherwise, the relationships between the characters must be taken at face value. It’s understood that Buffy loves the Scoobs. It’s understood that she loves Dawn. It’s understood that she loves (loved) Angel. It’s understood that she holds firm to alliances unless those alliances are severed. It’s the reader’s prerogative how to personally feel about the relationship, but if there is no reason given by the story, you don’t automatically assume that it‘s false or that it is meant to be portrayed in the negative.

 So I think in this dialogue it’s pretty clearly understood that Buffy and Spike hold each other in pretty high regard. They respect each other. They care about each other. They tease and cajole and try to get a rise out of each other because they’re both competitors. They both like to believe that they’re the shit when it comes to the fight and in their badass ’tude.

The only thing about the exchange that I was ambivalent about was Spike’s “Bloody hell, you would.” I took it as nervousness creeping up because of the slight intimacy going on. Slightly breaching the buddy zone they’ve established so far. But maybe also more of his insecurity creeping up as well. Except maybe a bit pissier. I think we might get Smashed Round Two somewhere down the line. Both of them have a lot to get off their chest.

But, yeah, I would have preferred “Bloody right you would.”

He covers it up, though, when he tells her that he’s going after whatever’s looking for her. And maybe she thanks him for that or maybe, just maybe, for kind of getting her self-involved head out of her ass. But stop the presses, readers! Buffy actually thanked Spike!

Honestly, it’s this back-and-forth banter that makes me miss the show and Ringer Michelle  Gellar and Heavy Metal Marsters. 
I think her whole rejuvenation could either be read as being influenced by this, or more likely that she needs to remove her name from the suspect list, but I don’t know, call me romantic but I kind of like that Buffy goes hunting for her hunter because Spike is so determined to finding out what’s stalking her. It’s like because he is doing so much, she can do no less. She can’t give up being the Slayer because he hasn’t given up on her. Step forward, regardless of reason.

 Anywho, so Buffy finally finds out who’s taking the demon out of the vampire. Stakes are strictly optional now as might her role as the Chosen One. Sigh, same old song and dance.

Ordinarily, this would bug me to no end as it just seems to be this albatross that won’t go away. But, you know, I’ve been watching Breaking Bad and its creator Vince Gilligan has stated how much he likes tragic flaws. For protagonist anti (and I do mean anti) hero, Walter White, his tragic flaw is his pride. It leads to him making stupid, boneheaded mistakes that seen from the outside by the viewer would be a complete no-brainer. But that’s just it. Walter’s not running on his logical, scientific brain when he makes these bad decisions. He’s running on his emotional, illogical ego. He has to prove he’s the smartest guy in the room. Lex Luthor as meth mastermind.

I think for me it helps to see Buffy in the same regard. The young lady has been through all kinds of emotional hell with Giles’s death being her latest trauma. It seems only natural that her desire to be normal would only increase, even if she’s shown in the past how much that whole world would no longer be attainable. She knows too much. But maybe I should see this as less of a trope and more as a tragic flaw. Or perhaps a pathology. Actually, for Mr. White, a pathology is probably the last thing he needs.

And speaking of themes and so forth, I dunno. As wonderfully Patton Oswalt as the whole ethical quandaries about killing vampires without dusting them equals murder is, it’s just a bit too Vampire Ethics 101 for me. There’s nothing compellingly immediate about it. We could have seen an episode like this in Season Four or prior to that for example. And besides, I think anytime you boil down a vampire to its essence it’s a walking undead id who sucks human blood. They’re evil. End of story. That’s probably what we’re going to learn this season. I’m glad the plot is moving forward  I just wish I cared about it more.

 For my money I think Angel and Faith has the more intriguing storyline. It’s directly involved with what Angel did and how he’s trying to atone. And how through those very actions he’s actually making it that much worse, and he’s shrinking away from confronting those impulses that made him become Twilight in the first place. In that, both Buffy and Angel are disturbingly similar. It’s just that one plot is direct about it while Buffy is indirectly connected. My heart (and dough) will always belong to Buffy, though.

 For both characters, though, they are taking a most definite Step. Back.

Tallgent
  
 
  
   






  
       


 

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Comment by cil domney on November 27, 2011 at 3:01pm

Buffy and Angel restore the world as to what it once was, but Whistler comes back as a rep to the Powers, and tells them as punishment all their friends and family will still carry the memories of what Buffy and Angel did to them.

 

Redux of IWRY - but this takes into into brilliant instead of yet another Angel Cross to Bear.  The endless reminder for all concerned would be a great punishment - the loss of the love and respect of all who matter in your life - yeah, that would be fitting.  I really would have like the Angel & Buffy Super Gods and humanity does not matter anymore - but frankly, I don't think Joss Whedon has the balls  to go there.  Maybe I will be proven wrong, but he never really had the courage to make Angel into the permanent Angelus, the forever Fallen Angel - even after all his stupendous bad choices and conduct of BS8 - he allows him a way back in.  

Have to go now, thanks for posting your reviews -

Comment by Lulurose on November 27, 2011 at 1:59pm

I, too, would not have minded being a fly on J. W.'s wall. I would like to know why he always has to body-slam both Angel and Buffy to rock bottom as characters. I guess he would reply that its so we can watch their journey back-which is what we will be doing in season nine.

As I said in my previous, long post, Buffy's big mistake is giving Angel her trust-the benefit of the doubt. In season eight, Buffy was already experiencing the extra powers before she was confronted by Angel where he revealed he was Twilight. So, apparently what Angel was told about bringing Buffy down emotionally-in at least partial defeat-was working. Buffy, of course, had no idea what was happening to her, and to add to her emotional pain she had come to the conclusion-with Willow's conjecture-that she was "absorbing" the dead slayers' powers.

Then Angel showed up, gave her the explanation he'd been given, and then she made the fatal mistake of giving him the benefit of the doubt. I wonder, if it had been written differently, and she told Angel he should have trusted her enough to come to her with what he knew, instead of some force or entity which he knew nothing of(though, to be fair to Angel, when it comes to Whistler, he thought he was someone he could trust, because he'd never seemed to have lied to Angel before)if Buffy then would have quashed "the glow," I can't help but wonder, what would Plan B have been? Without Buffy's acquiescense, would Angel still have gone along, or would he have renigged on his agreement?

Comment by Lulurose on November 27, 2011 at 1:00pm

I think that one of the tragedies of the whole Buffy/Giles relationship is that, throughout it all, Giles always underestimated Buffy. He never trusted Buffy's instincts. He never trusted that she had "the right stuff"-and it probably cost him his life. 

No, Buffy's not perfect-far from it, but, aren't we all "not perfect?" Yes, Buffy was affected by "the glow"-I guess the percentage that she was will be one of these things that we fans always debate. However, I think that when Angel came back and slammed her against the cave wall, and then proceeded to "fry" Spike that, at that point, the realization that that Angel-whoever and whatever he now was-was no longer on their side, and all the "glowiness" got knocked totally out of her, as well. She was fighting Angel tooth and nail when Giles made his move, so, IMO, she no longer had stars in her eyes. They were wide open, and she was fighting Angel to the death-if necessary- already. 

I think that Giles made a very fatal mistake, but I guess its because he didn't know what we, the audience, knew from having had a bird's eye view of Buffy realizing that she had to kill Angel before, and carrying it out-broken heart, or not. Yes, its true that Buffy has a hard time "killing" Angel, but, in the final analysis, she did when she had to. She killed Angel. Not in his Angelus persona, but Angel himself. She knew what the stakes were-no pun intended. By the time she and Twangel were battling it out she once again knew what the stakes were, and I really do believe that-as a character-if she had had to, she would have killed Angel once again to stop him from getting The Seed, or totally destroying it for spite or something-because, unless I am not remembering correctly, Buffy damaged it, but she didn't totally destroy it. It's still blocking the portal to whatever, so its still-at least up to a point-keeping some things out, and, as bad as things are, I assume they'd be worse if that portal was totally open for all manner of beasties to come forth. She also would have killed him to save any of her near and dear ones-including Spike, IMO, if she absolutely had to, and the situation certainly was at that point by the end of season eight.

Giles himself wasn't absolutely unbiased, and that is understandable. His bias is because of Jenny Calendar's death, and the fact that Jenny might not have died if Buffy had not been torn about killing Angel in his Angelus pesona. From that point, if Giles doubted Buffy even before then-and he did-he certainly would always have that in the back of his mind. It's even more tragic because it seems to have only led to more death-this time, his own.

I think I have a different "take" on fatal flaws than you have, Tallgent.  I have stopped watching television shows before because watching a character constantly shoot him/herself in the foot-along with many others-got old really fast, IMO. At a certain point, it becomes really tiresome. Yes, it may be realistic, but, even in real life, there is a point where-if a person refuses to come to terms with their fatal flaw, then it becomes necessary to put that person out of one's life, at least as much as possible.

Up to a point, that might be what The Scoobies are doing right now. They know that Buffy can't change her Slayer status, but are dismayed at her handling of all the other things-especially that she keeps on "trusting" Angel when she should know by now that Angel-even though he can't help it-will always be a "loose cannon" because of his curse, and because he is somehow always going to be in the crosshairs of some other force for some unexplainable reason(and that apparently is still in play because Whistler is still in the equation, even if TPTB or W & H aren't right now.)

Comment by Tallgent on November 27, 2011 at 9:50am

Yeah, we had this thread on Buffyforums about it. I personally think they kind of skimped on really twisting the hell out of Bangel in Season Eight and I think the story suffered as a result. Anyway this is what I posted about what I would change, delete, or enhance in Season Eight.

 

Change

Really my big revisions would be about the degree of tragedy. I think the comic pistol-whipped when it could have really pulled the trigger. So I would have had it where it is made clear that Giles going down to the Hellmouth would have made no difference in destroying the Seed. His actions were clearly a self-sacrifice to wake Buffy to the reality of Angel's descent. That way it would emphasize how pathetically desperate and shameful the situation has come to. What does a guy have to do to get you to pay attention? Die?! And, sure enough, that's exactly what has to happen.

The second would have had Buffy and Angel go full-on gods. There's a comic I'm itching to read called A God Somewhere about how an ordinary guy is inevitably corrupted when he acquires godlike power. I really wanted to see Buffy and Angel go full-tilt in experiencing absolute power. Ending global conflict. Banshing all demons. And then....almost without meaning to, Buffy and Angel go wish-fulfillment. At first it's harmless and beneficial. And then pettiness creeps in and they both are so juiced off of how destiny has rewarded them that they feel spiteful about anyone who doubted their destined love and glory. And that spite manifests itself, again almost innocently. A double-chin for Xander. Willow feels excessively bloated. Until before you know it, we have a full-blown Hieronymus Bosch depiction of Hell where all our favorite characters--alive and deceased--come back as physically repulsive grotesqueries of their former selves.

And then just as things are reaching a fever pitch in cruel insanity, Buffy does something to Dawn or she brings back her mother and that's the turning point. That's when she gets back in touch with her humanity. We get some insight into Angel becoming Twilight because he lost Connor and Buffy's regained empathy towards her loved ones brings a dark wrath out of Angel as he's about to pull Connor out from beyond when he takes a good look at the Hell Buffy and he created and feels shame. Buffy and Angel restore the world as to what it once was, but Whistler comes back as a rep to the Powers, and tells them as punishment all their friends and family will still carry the memories of what Buffy and Angel did to them.

Add

I'll go with a flashback to Buffy first hearing about Spike and maybe a bit more stubborn pettiness on her part. I loved the dynamic between them in Issue 40, but it would have been interesting for Buffy determined not to give Spike the satisfaction of feeling chastened. Her sister? Of course. The Scoobs? Fine. But not him.

Delete

I have to concur that I would remove the killer vampire plushies story as it added nothing to the main arc. I'd also edit the spacefrak to two panels--actions and consequences--but make them both full page to appease the B/A shippers.

Tallgent


 

 

Comment by cil domney on November 26, 2011 at 1:56am

what are your thoughts on how giles described Buffy and how she would be fighting against TwiAngel?  Did Giles throw himself inbetween them inorder to force Buffy into going all out Slayer Destroyer Mode.  Was Buffy once again, as when she falls for Angel's let's for once be happy lines, betraying her duty to all those people who followed her as their leader, a role she took on irrespective of her "I so want to be and live a normal human life."  There should not have been any question whatsoever in her mindset that TwiAngel had to be killed - and yet Giles clearly tells Xander that she is not fighting from the correct and needed perspective. 

How I wish I could be that fly on the wall when Joss Whedon wrote the finale for BS8.  If Giles decided that he had to sacrifice himself because Buffy was not doing what was needed; she has herself to blame just as much as she can blame Angel. 

Frankly, I was pretty much disgusted with how Joss Whedon and Brad Metzer in his arc dealt with Buffy - The "I love Angel so much and I need him" made her completely pathetic in the context of what she suffered at the hands of Twilight and all the hundreds of other who suffered by "The Plan."  There needs to be a very good reason for her actions and the story to support her betrayal of so many people and herself. 

Season 6 and all the abusive violence becomes kids play in contrast to what she initiated with her choice to follow Angel. 

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