Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Buffy vs. Angel: What Am I Doing Here?

Okay, I'm so far behind with these posts, the guilt is overwhelming me.  I need to just write something, so we'll start with an easy one and just kind of blather about Buffy, because I can always do that.

For example, I was listening to the soundtrack of Once More with Feeling on the ride to work today, and I STILL have to fast forward through Giles's song, "Standing in Your Way," because I will never be not enraged about him leaving.  There are so many things wrong with that.  I think I've come the conclusion that it's a writing problem--there's just no way it's a realistic thing for a person to do.

But even knowing it's the fault of Joss Whedon or whoever was writing the show at that time, I still blame Giles.  Because yes, a 20 year old who's just been through a hugely traumatic experience right after losing her mother should totally be standing on her own two feet.  What the hell kind of a person does that?

Okay, but I'm here to talk about the most recent updates to the Buffyverse, namely the conclusion to Season 9, The Core, and the last volume of Angel & Faith, Death and Consequences.  (There's actually a more recent volume just out, but I haven't read it yet.  Waiting for it from the library!)

Death and Consequences comes first chronologically, so we'll start there.  Here's the thing--this run of A&F is better than Buffy is right now.  It's well-written, neatly balances the bigger story arc (Angel tries to bring Giles back to life!) with the individual stories (Faith has it out with the London slayers who hate Angel! Drusilla's around! Family issues!), the character work is great, the writing is funny.  The stakes are worth it, the struggle is hard, but I don't know how it's going to turn out.

But I still hate Angel.  Hate him.  Christos Gage (writer) is trying to make me not hate him, but I wasn't a huge fan at any point in the story, and after Twilight, I just can't.  I can't tell how much the story is retconning and how much I just missed the first time around.  Supposedly ameliorating tidbits--like Angel was planning to bring everyone to the new universe when the old one perished, or he was possessed by Twilight, not under his own power--are dropped throughout.  But they're a way of dodging what seems to me like the most interesting thing about the whole Angel situation, which is that he made a choice to let there be destruction in the name of what he considered a greater good, and he was wrong.

By taking that back, by making him a victim instead of a perpetrator, it seems like an easy out.  It's too hand-wavy.  But at least the Giles part is real--he was clearly possessed when he killed Giles, but he clearly blames himself for it (because he let it get that far--which implies that he WAS acting of his own volition!).

This is a screed already.  I apologize.

Anyway, The Core was a great ending for Season 9 of Buffy.  The Scoobies in action together, a resolution to the exhausting, drudgy problem of the season, a big bang for a couple of important characters, some sisterhood stuff, good people making bad choices and having to live with them--everything you want.

Oh, yeah, and Spike!  And not angsty Spike--the Spike who was Dawn's unlikely protector in Season 5.  I have an enormous soft spot for Spike--soft isn't even the word--but he's a hero, and it's nice to see him acting on that a bit.

He was actually in Death and Consequences, too, and while he still gets played for some laughs, he also gets to be a hero, which just seems right to me.  I mean, he's the only known case of someone UNVAMPIRING himself, specifically so he could be a good guy.  Yes, he's snarky and not all that bright, but he's a doer, perceptive and loyal to an almost unhealthy point.

Oh, god, this has gone beyond screed.  I'm just ranting.  I'm going to quit now before I start linking to fanfiction.  But I want to throw in a link to this review from the Nerdist of the beginning of Season 10, which, first, has me really excited, and second, captures my feelings about the progression of the comics really well (along with my desire to see what a 30-something Scooby gang is up to).  Buffy 4 Ever.

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