Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Episode 5: The Chain
Written by Joss Whedon; Illustrated by Paul Lee
This season of Buffy is full of surprises. Who would have thought that the best “episode” so far would turn out to be a one-shot stand-alone affair rather than one with something to do with the main arc? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that it will prove to be relevant to the bigger picture in a thematic sense, but for the most part this is a self-contained story, and, to date, the only episode not to feature Buffy. Actually, the only regulars we see are Giles (briefly) and Andrew (even more briefly, thankfully, although he manages to be as infuriating as ever in his one-page appearance). The narrative, this time, focuses on one of two Slayers posing as Buffy in order to confuse her enemies, and it actually manages to be quite touching in the space of its 22-page duration. The theme seems to be the loss of identity: as the heroine puts it, “You don’t have to remember me. You don’t even know who I am.” This is a continuation of the “everything is connected” mantra of Season 7 that eventually led to Buffy sharing her power with all the potential Slayers, although it’s a lot less happy-sappy and touchy-feely than what we saw at the end of Chosen. The point is that, in a war, the grunts are expendable, and most of the time, no-one will even know the names of the ones who make a real difference. It’s not a pleasant message, but it’s a truthful one.
By the way, this episode was drawn by a different artist, Paul Lee. He tends to stage his action more coherently than Georges Jeanty, but his characters seem less “alive”, and his rendition of Giles is way off (his Andrew his considerably better, although, given how I feel about the character, I’m using “better” in the loosest possible sense of the word). Jeanty returns for the next episode, which will kick off the Faith arc written by Brian K. Vaughan. My hopes for this arc are actually somewhat higher than they would have been had Whedon been writing it - I’m looking forward to seeing whether new blood can put a fresh spin on things. And hey, it’s Faith. What’s not to like?
Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 at 8:07 PM
| Comments: 3
| Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"they purpose not their death, when / they purpose their services"
The previous four-"episode" arc was enjoyable, but felt too dependant on "look - its Y... oh, how I've missed Y" nostalgia. Here, with the focus on grunts not generals (a shift in perspective probably easier in comics than television), I hope the season finds its footing. (There's a long interview with Joss in The Onion AV Club 8/8/07 that mentions in passing the difficulty in generating new emotional involvements without relying on familiar characters and situations that might apply). Some shorthanding too easily borrows from the series (kids around the table at school, snarking) and a few new additions I'm not yet sold on (the faeries / slugs), but overall a nice step forward.
Posted by: , August 9, 2007 3:57 AM
A very "personal" little story from Whedon as I've read, probably on the Dark Horse site... d'oh. Anyway, good to hear it's a keeper.
Posted by: Anon, August 9, 2007 6:25 AM
Thanks for the link to that interview, my nameless friend. It was a very good read, and I got the sense that Whedon was being a lot more candid than usual. Often, it seems that actually getting meaningful information out of him is a bit like pulling teeth, given his habit of replying to questions with jokes rather than answers.
Posted by: Whiggles
, August 9, 2007 10:54 AM
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